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CONNECTING 'STAR WARS' WHILE REVIEWING 'THE DAM BUSTERS'

Titlte: THE DAM BUSTERS Year: 1955 Rates: ***
Director Michael Anderson's LOGAN'S RUN is a sci-fi classic with special effects that were blown away a year later by STAR WARS... But Anderson had something on George Lucas since two decades earlier, his WWII flick THE DAMN BUSTERS gave STAR WARS its Death Star dogfight finale...

DAM begins with a determined, talky Michael Redgrave as Doctor B. N. Wallis coming up with a plan that is so dissected up front it gets a bit tedious, and perhaps intentionally irritating, as various tests keep failing and failing. Which is to have low-flying planes (the pilots equipped with a Lucasfilm-familiar moveable targeting-view-screen) drop bombs that wind up "rock-skipping" across a long stretch of water until exploding at the wall of, ultimately, a German dam — to succeed, they must hit the sweet spot...

Robert Shaw prepares The Dam Busters flight
Once the bomb is dropped, the planes, like STAR WARS' X-Wing fighters, fly up and veer off diagonally as the pilots, led by Richard Todd's Wing Commander Guy Gibson (with a non-famous Robert Shaw as one of his men), turns to look at the target (with the dam visible outside the cockpit window) in a similar fashion... relieved if hit, morose if missed... as the Rebel Rogue pilots. While historically this is far, far more important, Lucas provides an edgier, more vibrant, hearty and spontaneous pace...

Other problems concerning DAM BUSTERS (besides Gibson's black lab being named... The N-Word, which is spoken around twenty times) is the lack of suspense after each plane attempts glory. Despite several misses, the near-victory feels obvious, predictable. But what's really distracting are the flashes of cartoon-like ground-fire from Germans below that, sticking to our comparison, dart forward like lasers coming off The Death Star canons or Tie Fighters. Only here there aren't any German planes to dodge and blast. It's only those three damn dams, making it difficult for the audience to keep score, or know exactly what is going on. Only why. 
The hand makes the plans to how the bomb will wind up destroying the dam death star...
Like X-wings flying low over the Death Star, so the planes slightly above the ocean floor
Lucas even used the war room on the planet Yavin... Michael Redgrave's on the left, stressing out his own plan
"Almost There... Alllmost There..." Like the last stretch on The Death Star before dropping the bomb, the plane lines up
Robert Shaw has a small but noticeable role as one of the pilots... Without dialogue or presence earlier, he shows up in the big battle
Robert Shaw in THE DAM BUSTERS
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