One of the greatest American military figures of the 20th century was General James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle. While best known for leading the daring April 18, 1942, bombing raid on Tokyo, Doolittle was also celebrated for record-breaking aviation feats and for the development of “instrument-only” flying.
This documentary offers an overview of Doolittle’s extraordinary life. Born in California and raised in a rough-and-tumble section of Nome, Alaska, Doolittle supported himself as a boxer before finding his career goals in aviation. He would earn a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but his military leadership skills proved invaluable during World War II, where he served in the Pacific, North Africa and Europe. Doolittle also made history as the first person to receive both the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
This film uses rare photographs and newsreel footage of Doolittle’s tumultuous life. Unfortunately, director Gardner Doolittle (a third cousin of the subject) decided to make himself an on-screen narrator. Gardner Doolittle’s inelegant narrative skills and awkward screen presence considerably dilutes the effectiveness of the production. But if a viewer can tolerate this problem, there is a remarkable history lesson to be enjoyed.