Shady Lady


Shady Lady
Directed by Tristan Loraine
Opens November 2, Quad Cinema

Too many Wiki-worthy info dumps and not enough character-enriching detail stops Shady Lady, a docudrama about a team of World War II Australian bombardiers, from cohering into a compelling fiction-doc hybrid. Through dry voiceover narration and clunky dialogue, director Tristan Loraine and co-writer Vivienne Young never stop explaining what was so dangerous about the Royal Australian Air Force's ambitious and unprecedented bombing run on a Japanese oil refinery. Young airmen played by robotic amateur actors are consequently always telling one another what's happening as it happens. Shady Lady's dramatized reenactments, which comprise most of the film's paradoxically interminable 87-minute runtime, are periodically interrupted by undistinguished stock footage and photomontages of the real Shady Lady and the 380th Bomb Group. But unless you're already a history buff, it's impossible to know just how typical the behavior of Shady Lady's crew was as they tried to escape the Japanese. Loraine and Young's blocky nonfiction interludes are too reliant on largely unqualified descriptions of events. It's impossible to know, just by using the film's re-creation of events, how hard it was for First Lieutenant Douglas Craig to out-maneuver enemy Japanese planes nor why his famously improvised landing of the Shady Lady on a beach was as risky as it was. Likewise, clammy banter during the film's fictionalized Unsolved Mysteries–level dramatization of events terminally stalls the film's most tense scenes. The biggest problem with Shady Lady isn't how much talking Loraine and Young's heroes do, but rather how little of note they have to say. Simon Abrams

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Mr. Abrams,


After seeing the film myself and the other comments on your review, I agree that you have taken an unnecessarily harsh and inaccurate stance against an amazing true story told by people who clearly were dedicated and invested in the story they told. And they told it quite beautifully, if I do say so myself.


Clearly this was an independent film, but you can always tell when something was handled with care, and this film was told with extreme care and attention to detail. A little research on your part would have shown how much research went into the film's creation, as well as the fact that they used a real, operational B24 to film the movie. It's not often that you see an actual B24 bomber plane flying over the ocean or the real interior of the plane used throughout a film. The efforts of all the people involved in the film brought to life an incredible true story that more people should know about.


So rather than make rude comments about a film that didn't have a super high budget, you should be appreciative of how creatively and carefully the funds were used to honor these American soldiers and their bravery. If the veterans who were there stand by it, who are you to say that it wasn't "entertaining" enough for you? Maybe you should think before you lash out next time and consider who you might be disrespecting.


Mr Abrams,

I found your review to be as full of "unqualified descriptions..." as you accuse the film of having.  I saw this film in the company of the original 380th BG vets who were there when those missions were flown, and their opinions of the film were extremely enthusiastic and supportive.  As for "Wiki-worthy info dumps...", isn't a documentary (or docudrama) supposed to present facts and vintage photos ? Nothing--I repeat--Nothing in this film was fictionalized or presented as "unqualified descriptions" of events or dialogue.  Your comment "fictionalized Unsolved Mysteries–level dramatization of events..." was so ridiculous that it was laughable.   It was NOT, as you stated, a " fiction-doc hybrid" (another laughable description).  Much research was done for this film, with information, dialogue, and actions taken from interviews with the actual surviving crew members of Shady Lady, and from written descriptions and logs recorded at the time.  Please check your facts and educate yourself a little about an event before you presume to state that things didn't happen in the way depicted.


I personally knew Slim Powers (the wisecracking waist-gunner depicted in the film).  He shared many stories of "Shady Lady" and his fellow crew members with me.  His actions and dialogue during the mission were fact--he actually did them exactly as shown.


You obviously wanted a multi-million dollar Hollywood production with A-List actors. Well, this independent film was made on a shoestring, with financing coming from a few corporations, private donors, and Mr. Lorraine's personal bank account.  I congratulate Mr. Lorraine, his film crew, and the "unknown"  actors for making this film.  I personally do not put much, if any, credence in film critics' opinions.  I am just as qualified to watch a film and make up my own mind about it without help from a "critic", thank you very much.




Dear Mr Abrams.


If you had actually watched the film you would not have written such a rubbish and inaccurate review. The Shady Lady film is brilliant and I was captivated throughout.


Having watched the film I am able to answer the questions you were unable to answer. In relation to your questions to how realistic the crew actions were, a simple visit to the film website provides all the answers as did the film. The documentary film was based entirely upon testimony, records and research collected by historians and the film writers.


The film clearly informed the audience that the aircraft captain Lt Doug Craig was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross which clearly highlights the bravery he required.


The crew were recently awarded a Presidential Citation in 2011 as stated in the film which further proves you did not listen.


As a writer myself you are taking a salary to do a job so do it properly or don't do it.


For me the film gets 10/10.


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