Bombs Away

Bombs Away: Fifty Old, Often Bad, and Mostly Forgotten Films, in No Particular Order, by John Vetto ★★★★★

This book is a totally first-class review of some very bad films, hopefully, rendered to the dustbin of history. J. Vetto is correct in asserting a particular value to these films, as they show a Hollywood and Americana scene of a bygone age, an age where Wokeness and political correctness were unheard-of terms, and where a general sense of public decency and morality prevailed. All fifty of these films, though some are exceedingly bad, are better than any of the rubbish cranked out nowadays from the cesspool of Hollywood.

I first met John in college, and we attended medical school together. Both of us eventually became surgical oncologists. During the first year and a half of medical school, John lived immediately above me (and eventually my wife) on Pill Hill in Portland, Oregon. As a token relief from the pressures of study, John and I (as well as some of John’s siblings and my new wife Betsy) would run downtown to a movie house on Broadway where we would watch old films. Since my wife and I grew up in an Amish-type setting, movies were somewhat foreign to us. Together, John introduced us to It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, the Thin Man series, North by Northwest, and many other films.

This book represents a practically encyclopedic review of fifty old and mostly forgotten films. They are not films that I would have any desire to see, as life is short and there still remain many old films of value worth watching at least once, if not a few times more. The value of this book is how it recalls the motivations and forces that drove the filming of B-movies (as well as a few A-movies that bombed). John’s knowledge of the actors, directors, and cameramen that made these films is outstanding. I’m not sure how he remembers such a vast compendium of movie trivia, while also remembering all of the latest-greatest studies and papers published in surgical oncology.

John has a particularly compelling writing style, throwing in personal vignettes and humorous anecdotes while recalling the movie plot and significant events of these films. Any old movie lover would find this book to be a real gem. Maybe John’s next book should be Gone Nuclear, where he reviews 50 of the greatest films of old times.