Rocketeer, The (1991)

The Rocketeer (1991), directed by Joe Johnston.


"How do I look?" "Like a hood ornament".

When a jet pack developed by aviation mogul Howard Hughes is stolen, gangsters, G-Men, nazis and one screen idol are all after it. It falls into the hands of a stunt pilot and his partner who have all sorts of damn heroic adventures before they are done with it.

Sometimes these retro-adventure stories work, but sometimes they don't. I like this one but wish it were better. Critics gave it good reviews at the time but it didn't find much of an audience, so no sequels.

It's too sweet and excessively Disneyfied. It was in development for a long time and the best ideas were jettisoned. For example, lovely Jennifer Connelly's character was originally inspired by nude model Bettie Page. No way! The narrative goes slack from time to time; maybe editing changes or a little more script doctoring would have helped.

Timothy Dalton does a deliciously villainous interpretation of Errol Flynn, nazi spy. There actually was a biography of Flynn claiming that. A more serious biographer called the notion "pathetic", and author/actor Jim Beaver said of the writer: "I wouldn't trust him if he said the sun rose this morning".

Dalton's best line: "I'm going to miss Hollywood". He then flies away but falls to his death on the HOLLYWOODLAND sign, obliterating just the LAND part.

Alan Arkin's dirt-kicking accent is hard to take. Terry O'Quinn fanclub! He's a sane Howard Hughes. Always good to see Jon Polito.

Some rather good aviation stunts.

Finally, when we first saw this my wife said of Jennifer Connelly: "Her breasts cannot be that large!" A little later: "Well maybe they are".

James Horner score.

Available on Blu-ray.