Gunbus... e divennero eroi: The Film That Inspired Iron Sky and Other Steampunk Works
English Gunbus... e divennero eroi: A Review of the 1986 Action-Adventure Film
If you are looking for a fun and quirky film that combines the genres of western, war, and comedy, you might want to check out English Gunbus... e divennero eroi (also known as Sky Bandits or Gunbus). This film, directed by Zoran Perisic, was released in 1986 and stars Scott McGinnis, Jeff Osterhage, Ronald Lacey, Miles Anderson, Valérie Steffen, and Ingrid Held. It tells the story of two American outlaws who end up as fighter pilots in World War I after a series of fortunate (or unfortunate) events. In this article, we will review the film and discuss its plot, characters, strengths, weaknesses, and legacy.
english Gunbus... e divennero eroi
What is the film about?
The film is a mix of action, adventure, comedy, and history. It follows the adventures of Luke (McGinnis) and Barney (Osterhage), two cowboys who rob a train in the Old West and escape with a mysterious crate. They soon discover that the crate contains a prototype of a machine gun that can fire thousands of bullets per minute. They decide to sell it to a German arms dealer named Fritz (Lacey), who offers them a large sum of money. However, things go wrong when Fritz double-crosses them and tries to kill them. Luke and Barney manage to escape with the help of a British spy named Potts (Anderson), who reveals that Fritz is actually a German spy who plans to use the gun to help Germany win the war. Potts convinces Luke and Barney to join him in his mission to stop Fritz and his allies.
Luke and Barney agree to help Potts, but they soon find themselves in more trouble than they bargained for. They end up in France, where they are mistaken for British soldiers and sent to fight in the trenches. They also meet two French women named Marie (Steffen) and Sophie (Held), who become their love interests. Luke and Barney have to deal with enemy fire, aerial battles, sabotage missions, and even a giant zeppelin that threatens to destroy London. Along the way, they learn more about the war, themselves, and each other.
The plot summary
The film begins with Luke and Barney robbing a train in Arizona in 1917. They steal a crate that contains a machine gun invented by an Englishman named Sir Reginald (Bill Bailey). They are chased by the sheriff (Keith Buckley) and his men, but they manage to escape with their horses. They head to Mexico, where they meet Fritz, who claims to be an arms dealer interested in buying the gun. Fritz offers them $50,000 for the gun, but he also secretly informs his German contacts about it.
Luke and Barney go to a hotel to wait for Fritz to bring them the money. There, they meet Potts, who poses as a drunkard. Potts secretly follows them to the rendezvous point, where Fritz reveals his true identity and tries to kill them. Luke and Barney fight back and manage to escape with the gun and Potts. Potts tells them that he is a British spy and that Fritz is a German spy who wants to use the gun to help Germany win the war. He also tells them that the gun is called the "Gunbus" and that it is designed to be mounted on an airplane. He asks them to join him in his mission to stop Fritz and his allies.
Luke and Barney agree to help Potts, but they are reluctant to leave their horses behind. They decide to take them along on a ship that sails to England. On the ship, they meet Marie and Sophie, two French women who are going to join the Red Cross. Luke falls in love with Marie, while Barney falls in love with Sophie. They also encounter Fritz again, who has boarded the ship with some of his men. Fritz tries to sabotage the ship and steal the Gunbus, but Luke and Barney stop him and throw him overboard.
Luke and Barney arrive in England, where they are greeted by Sir Reginald, the inventor of the Gunbus. Sir Reginald tells them that he has built a special airplane that can carry the Gunbus and that he needs them to fly it. He also tells them that Fritz has survived and that he is working with a German general named Von Schlussel (Terence Harvey) who has a secret weapon: a giant zeppelin that can drop bombs on London. Sir Reginald assigns Potts to be their instructor and gives them uniforms and medals.
Luke and Barney go to France, where they join a squadron of British pilots led by Captain Albright (Tony Sibbald). They also reunite with Marie and Sophie, who are working as nurses at a nearby hospital. Luke and Barney have to undergo training and learn how to fly the airplane and use the Gunbus. They also have to face the dangers of aerial combat against the German planes.
One day, Luke and Barney are sent on a mission to destroy a German ammunition depot. They succeed in blowing up the depot, but they also accidentally destroy a nearby church. They are arrested by the French authorities and sentenced to death by firing squad. However, they are saved by Potts, who convinces the French commander (Bill Reimbold) that they are heroes.
Luke and Barney return to their base, where they are celebrated as heroes by their comrades. They also receive a letter from Sir Reginald, who tells them that he has finished building another airplane that can carry two Gunbuses. He asks them to fly it and stop Von Schlussel's zeppelin, which is about to attack London.
Luke and Barney accept the mission and fly the new airplane, accompanied by Potts and Albright. They reach London, where they see the zeppelin dropping bombs on the city. They engage in a fierce battle with the zeppelin and its escort planes. They manage to shoot down some of the planes, but they also lose Albright, who sacrifices himself to save them.
Luke and Barney decide to ram their airplane into the zeppelin's engine, hoping to destroy it. They say goodbye to each other and prepare for their final act of heroism. However, at the last moment, they see Fritz parachuting from the zeppelin with a suitcase full of money. They change their course and follow him instead.
Luke and Barney land near Fritz, who is surrounded by some British soldiers. They claim that Fritz is their prisoner and that they want the money as a reward. Fritz protests, but he is ignored by the soldiers. Luke and Barney take the money and ride away on their horses, which they have brought along on their airplane.
The film ends with Luke and Barney riding into the sunset with their horses and their money, while Marie and Sophie wave goodbye from a nearby hill.
The main characters
The film features several characters who have different personalities, backgrounds, and motivations. Here are some of the main characters:
Luke (Scott McGinnis): He is one of the protagonists of the film. He is a cowboy who loves adventure, money, and women. He is brave, reckless, witty, and charming. He is loyal to his friend Barney, but he also likes to tease him sometimes. He falls in love with Marie, a French nurse who shares his sense of humor.
The historical context
The film is set during World War I, which lasted from 1914 to 1918. It was a global conflict that involved many countries and regions, such as Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It was also known as the Great War or the War to End All Wars, because of its unprecedented scale and devastation. It resulted in millions of deaths, injuries, and displacements, as well as political, social, and economic changes.
One of the main features of World War I was the use of new technologies and weapons, such as machine guns, tanks, submarines, poison gas, and airplanes. The film focuses on the role of aviation in the war, which was still a relatively new and experimental field at the time. The first airplanes were used for reconnaissance and observation purposes, but soon they were also used for bombing and fighting. The pilots faced many dangers and challenges, such as poor weather conditions, mechanical failures, enemy fire, and limited training and equipment. They also developed a code of honor and respect for their opponents, who were often called "aces".
The film also depicts some of the historical events and figures that were involved in World War I, such as the Western Front, where most of the battles took place between the Allies (France, Britain, Russia, Italy, and later the United States) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria); the Zeppelin raids, which were aerial attacks by German airships on British cities and towns; and Sir Reginald Denny (Bill Bailey), who was a real-life British actor and aviator who served in the Royal Flying Corps.
What are the strengths of the film?
The film has some strengths that make it enjoyable and entertaining for some viewers. Here are some of them:
The visual effects
The film showcases some impressive visual effects that create a sense of wonder and excitement. The film was directed by Zoran Perisic, who was also a special effects expert who worked on films such as Superman (1978), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Zelig (1983). He used a technique called Zoptic, which involved moving miniatures in front of a camera while projecting background images on a screen behind them. This created a realistic illusion of depth and movement for the flying scenes.
The film also features some creative and imaginative designs for the airplanes and airships that are inspired by Bruce McCall's illustrations. Some of them are based on real models that were used or proposed during World War I, such as the Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus, which was one of the first fighter planes to have a machine gun mounted on it; or the Schütte-Lanz airship, which was a rival of the Zeppelin. Others are completely fictional and fantastical, such as the airplane with two Gunbuses attached to it; or the giant zeppelin that has a landing field on top of it.
The humor and action
The film also has some humor and action that make it fun and lively. The film does not take itself too seriously and often pokes fun at its own absurdity and clichés. For example, Luke and Barney are constantly cracking jokes and making witty remarks about their situations; Fritz is portrayed as a cartoonish villain who always survives his mishaps; Potts is shown as a clumsy spy who always gets drunk; Marie and Sophie are depicted as stereotypical French women who are always flirting; Sir Reginald is presented as an eccentric inventor who loves his machines more than his wife; etc.
The historical accuracy
The film also has some historical accuracy that makes it informative and educational. The film depicts some of the aspects and events of World War I that are based on real facts and sources, such as the use of machine guns, airplanes, and airships in the war; the role of spies and saboteurs; the conditions and dangers of trench warfare; the Zeppelin raids on London; the involvement of different countries and regions in the war; etc.
The film also features some real-life historical figures and references that are relevant to World War I, such as Sir Reginald Denny, who was a British actor and aviator who served in the Royal Flying Corps; Biggles, who was a fictional character created by W. E. Johns who was a pilot and adventurer in World War I and later wars; Mata Hari, who was a Dutch exotic dancer and spy who was executed by the French for espionage in 1917; etc.
What are the weaknesses of the film?
The film also has some weaknesses that make it flawed and disappointing for some viewers. Here are some of them:
The acting and dialogue
The film suffers from poor acting and dialogue that make it unconvincing and dull. The film features some actors who are unknown or inexperienced, such as Scott McGinnis and Jeff Osterhage, who play the main roles of Luke and Barney. They have little charisma or chemistry, and they deliver their lines with a flat and monotone voice. They also have no resemblance or authenticity to their characters, who are supposed to be cowboys from 1917. They look more like modern actors wearing costumes and wigs.
The film also features some actors who are over-the-top or hammy, such as Ronald Lacey, who plays the villainous Fritz. He is too cartoonish and exaggerated, and he makes his character look more like a parody than a threat. He also has a fake German accent that is inconsistent and annoying.
The film also suffers from poor dialogue that is clichéd and boring. The film uses many lines and phrases that are predictable or recycled from other films, such as "Let's get out of here", "We're not in Kansas anymore", "You're a genius", "I love you", etc. The film also uses many jokes and puns that are unfunny or corny, such as "We're flying high", "We're in deep trouble", "You're a barrel of laughs", etc.
The plot holes and inconsistencies
The film also suffers from plot holes and inconsistencies that make it illogical and confusing. The film has many scenes and events that are implausible or contradictory, such as Luke and Barney robbing a train with dynamite without being noticed or caught; Luke and Barney shooting down an airplane with their pistols without missing or reloading; Luke and Barney flying an airplane without any training or experience; Luke and Barney escaping from a firing squad without any explanation or consequence; Luke and Barney landing near Fritz without being seen or shot by anyone; etc.
The cultural stereotypes
The film also suffers from cultural stereotypes that make it offensive and insensitive. The film portrays some of the characters and groups in a negative or exaggerated way, such as the Germans, who are shown as evil, ruthless, and greedy; the French, who are shown as romantic, frivolous, and cowardly; the British, who are shown as eccentric, pompous, and snobbish; the Americans, who are shown as brave, adventurous, and rebellious; etc.
The film also uses some language and jokes that are inappropriate or disrespectful, such as calling the Germans "Krauts" or "Huns"; making fun of the French accent or cuisine; mocking the British aristocracy or manners; using sexual innuendos or slurs; etc.
What is the legacy of the film?
The film has a mixed legacy that makes it obscure and forgotten for some viewers, but cult and nostalgic for others. Here are some of the aspects of its legacy:
The reception and ratings
The film received mostly negative reviews from critics and audiences when it was released in 1986. The film was criticized for its poor acting, dialogue, plot, humor, and accuracy. The film was also compared unfavorably to other films that had similar themes or elements, such as Indiana Jones, Top Gun, Star Wars, The Great Escape, etc. The film was also a box office flop, grossing only $2.3 million in the United States and being never shown in British cinemas.
The film has a low rating on IMDb (5.3/10) and Rotten Tomatoes (17%) , reflecting its poor reception and popularity. The film has also been largely ignored or forgotten by most media outlets and platforms, such as TV channels, streaming services, DVD releases, etc.
The influence and references
The film has some influence and references that make it cult and nostalgic for some viewers. The film has some fans and admirers who appreciate its visual effects, designs, action, and humor. The film has also inspired or been referenced by some other works that have similar themes or elements, such as Iron Sky, Steamboy, Biggles: Adventures in Time, Flyboys, etc.
The film has also been featured or mentioned by some websites and podcasts that focus on obscure or underrated films, such as Bad Movies We Love , Forgotten Films , Cult Film Club , etc.
the plot holes and inconsistencies, and the cultural stereotypes. The film has a mixed legacy that makes it obscure and forgotten for some viewers, but cult and nostalgic for others. The film received mostly negative reviews and ratings when it was released, but it also has some fans and influence that appreciate its visual effects, designs, action, and humor. FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about the film:
What is the original title of the film? The original title of the film is English Gunbus... e divennero eroi, which is Italian for English Gunbus... and they became heroes. The film was also released under other titles, such as Sky Bandits or Gunbus.
Who directed the film? The film was directed by Zoran Perisic, who was also a special effects expert who worked on films such as Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Zelig. He used a technique called Zoptic, which involved moving miniatures in front of a camera while projecting background images on a screen behind them.
Who starred in the film? The film starred Scott McGinnis and Jeff Osterhage as Luke and Barney, two American outlaws who end up as fighter pilots in World War I. The film also featured Ronald Lacey as Fritz, a German spy and villain; Miles Anderson as Potts, a British spy and ally; Valérie Steffen as Marie and Ingrid Held as Sophie, two French nurses and love interests; Bill Bailey as Sir Reginald, a British inventor and engineer; Terence Harvey as Von Schlussel, a German general and antagonist; Tony Sibbald as Albright, a British captain and friend; Keith Buckley as the sheriff; etc.
What is the plot of the film? The plot of the film is a mix of action, adventure, comedy, and history. It follows the adventures of Luke and Barney, who rob a train in the Old West and escape with a prototype of a machine gun that can fire thousands of bullets per minute. They decide to sell it to Fritz, who claims to be an arms dealer but is actually a German spy who plans to use the gun to help Germany win the war. Luke and Barney manage to escape with the help of Potts, who convinces them to join him in his mission to stop Fritz and his allies. Luke and Barney end up in France, where they are mistaken for British soldiers and sent to fight in the trenches. They also meet Marie and Sophie, who become their love interests. Luke and Barney have to deal with enemy fire, aerial battles, sabotage missions, and even a giant zeppelin that threatens to destroy London. Along the way, they learn more about the war, themselves, and each other.
What are some of the strengths of the film? Some of the strengths of the film are the visual effects, which create a sense of wonder and excitement; the humor and action, which make it fun and lively; and the historical accuracy, which make it informative and educational.
the acting and dialogue, which make it unconvincing and dull; the plot holes and inconsistencies, which make it illogical and confusing; and the cultural stereotypes, which make it offensive and insensitive.
What is the legacy of the film? The film has a mixed legacy that makes it obscure and forgotten for some viewers, but cult and nostalgic for others. The film received mostly negative reviews and ratings when it was released, but it also has some fans and influence that appreciate its visual effects, designs, action, and humor. The film also features some real-life historical figures and references that are relevant to World War I.
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