The Apple TV+ mini-series Masters of the Air, executive produced by Spielberg with Playtone’s Tom Hanks, recreate the period with the classic “Prisoner of Love”
The Apple TV+ nine-part mini-series Masters of the Air, executive produced by Spielberg with Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, is based on Donald L. Miller’s book Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany. It tells the story of the tens of thousands of American bombers who took to the skies in World War II only to be shot down, killed or held captive in Nazi Germany. The film is the next installment in the Band of Brothers franchise alongside The Pacific, also produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
Masters of the Air has a long cast list headed up by Austin Butler who plays Major Gale Cleven. A man who was already in the thick of the action by June 1943. History says that his B-17 was shot down in October 1943, so we can expect some interesting highlights for the lead. Other case members include Barry Keoghan playing Lt. Curtis Biddick.
This war epic tells the story of the actions of the US Army’s elite Eighth Air Force of the United States Army, the American bomber force that took the war to Hitler’s doorstep by bombing Berlin, Hanover, Liepzig and Dresden, destroying enemy targets like rail facilities and oil refineries, while also being expected to engage in air-to-air fighter combat at 25,000ft. Those American crewmen suffered more casualties during the war than the entire US Marine Corps, so you can imagine that the story is harrowing and action-packed. The missions were highly dangerous and produced many heroes.
The written retelling of the Eighth Air Force’s story details life in wartime England as well as tales from German prisoner of war camps and the hardships the bomber crews had to face. We’re expecting to see some of these moving stories being wonderfully retold during the TV series too.
A lot of the story is set to take place in England and some of the work has resulted in massive expenditure to recreate a US Airforce base in Buckinghamshire. A lot of work has gone into setting the stage for the show and there are WWII Nissen huts popping up and behind-the-scenes views of B-17s being used in the show.
The film makers frequently select the music with lyrics written by Leo Robin for these period films. In Masters of the Air, the classic “Prisoner of Love,” composed by Russ Columbo with lyrics by Leo Robin and Clarence Gaskill sets the right mood in a scene. Russ Columbo first introduced it on his radio show and recorded it on October 9, 1931. The film uses the heartfelt recording of Lena Horne from 1941. In 1946 the song became a major hit for Billy Eckstine, Perry Como and the Ink Spots.
Masters of the Air has been in the works for some time and it was originally confirmed by HBO back in 2013. Since then the production was dropped by HBO but picked up as Apple TV+ exclusive. The deal with Apple occurred in 2019 but production has no doubt been a bit of a struggle since then thanks to various lockdowns over the last few years. Positive COVID-19 tests from the crew also halted production for a while in July 2021 according to some reports as well.