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Reality TV Circa 1944

Memphisbelleposter0_3 Think about the high risk of injury and death faced by the fishermen in the hit reality TV show The Deadliest Catch.  Now imagine they are under enemy fire while doing their job.  Sure, Sig Hanson and the crew of the Northwestern have to survive extreme cold, handle dangerous equipment, and navigate the violent waters of the Bering Sea, but if you really want to see a dangerous job watch a B17 bomber crew on a mission during WWII.  “Ah if only they had a reality show about dangerous jobs back then” you say.  They did.

The 1944 color documentary The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress follows the men of the Memphis Belle as they perform air strikes over Europe.  You can watch this 45-minute "reality show" for free now by downloading it from the National Archives.

Plus, AMC is showing the 1990 movie Memphis Belle about this same  subject and it features an all star cast.  This version might be fictionalized but the filmmakers found five actual B17 Bombers to use while filming and the work of these Gunners, Bombardiers, and Pilots seems all too real.  Follow the crew as they put on their oxygen masks, flak jackets, and good luck charms (just another day at the office) and head out to drop bombs over Bremen.  It’s like Man Vs. Wild but with a group: the men push themselves to the limit and survive against all odds.  And, unlike the men in Ice Road Truckers who do it for the money, they did it for America.

Find out what it really means when they start counting Parachutes. Memphis Belle airs on AMC tonight at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

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