December 14, 1981 12:00 PM

by Bertil Skogsberg

Whether they’re taking off, landing, crashing, climbing, diving, carrying mail, bombing, dogfighting, doing acrobatics or breaking the sound barrier, airplanes are inherently dramatic. This fact has not been lost on moviemakers, from the earliest days of flying on up through the Airport series. Even Airplane! was in its way a tribute to the genre. Skogsberg, a veteran of the Royal Swedish Air Force, has compiled this saga of air movies, beginning with Wings, the 1927 silent starring Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen that won the first best-picture Oscar. Skogsberg’s affectionate recapping of flying movies, and especially the still pictures he uses, are real movie-buff stuff. Along with such familiar titles as The Dawn Patrol (Skogsberg’s personal favorite), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Air Force, The High and the Mighty and Dr. Strangelove, Skogsberg includes interesting sections on WW II films from Japan and Germany as well as work from such countries as Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. (He leaves out North by Northwest, despite Hitchcock’s nightmarish sequence of a crop duster chasing Cary Grant.) Those who have a late-late-show reference library will want this. (A.S. Barnes, $25)

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