In 1944, Cukor returned to civilian life after a six-month stint in the Signal Corps and was quickly assigned this Army-commissioned portrait of five aspiring Air Force pilots (based on a play by Moss Hart, who would re-team with Cukor for A Star Is Born). The result is a slice of heart-on-sleeve patriotic feeling enlivened by beautiful open-air location shooting and stirring action sequences. Even the Times’ curmudgeonly Bosley Crowther fell for the film’s charms, in a thoroughly of-its-time review (“the females enlisted for the picture are all most refreshing and good”). “Rather appealingly plain” was Cukor’s judgment, but Winged Victory now comes off as a revealing document of a long-gone period in Hollywood history—a moment when, as Cukor later put it, “everyone was patriotic.”