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Command Decision (1948)

Passed  |   |  War, Drama  |  February 1949 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,485 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 11 critic

Army generals struggle with the decision to prioritize bombing the German factories producing new jet fighters over the extremely high casualties the mission will cost.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tech. Sgt. Immanuel T. Evans
Brig. Gen. Clifton I. Garnet
Elmer Brockhurst
Col. Edward Rayton Martin
Capt. George Washington Bellpepper Lee
Richard Quine ...
Maj. George Rockton
Lt. Ansel Goldberg
Clinton Sundberg ...
Maj. Homer V. Prescott
Maj. Desmond Lansing
Warner Anderson ...
Col. Earnest Haley
Maj. Belding Davis
Moroni Olsen ...
Congressman Stone


General Dennis of the US Force in England in World War II finds that he must order his planes deeper and deeper into Germany to prevent the production of military jet planes that will turn the tide of battle to the Germans. He must fight congressmen, and his own chain of command to win the political battle before he can send his planes out. His problem is complicated by a very narrow window of good weather necessary to allow his effort to be successful. Adapted from a stage play, it attempts to look at the challenges of command in the political arena. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Heroes, cowards, fighters, braggarts, liars...and what goes on in their hearts!


War | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

February 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De flög i gryningen  »

Box Office


$3,700,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The original Broadway production ran for virtually a year - from Oct. 1 1947 through Sept. 18, 1948, a total of 409 performances, and starred Paul Kelly, Jay Fassett, James Whitmore, Paul McGrath, Edmon Ryan, Stephen Elliot, Paul Ford, Arthur Franz, and John Randolph in the roles played respectively by: Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson, Brian Donlevy, Charles Bickford, John Hodiak, Edward Arnold, Michael Steele, and Cameron Mitchell. See more »


When Van Johnson is in Gable's office alone in the very beginning of the film, someone comes in and gives him a model plane and he places it on a shelf behind him. However, when Gable comes in soon afterwards the shelf is empty. See more »


[Standing next to a B-17 starting up]
Col. Edward Rayton Martin: Well... see you later.
[Col. Martin runs to get aboard the bomber]
Col. Edward Rayton Martin: Keep your temper with the big wheels!
Brig. Gen. K.C. 'Casey' Dennis: What?
Col. Edward Rayton Martin: I said; keep your temper with the big wheels! I don't want to get back and find you with a Legion of Merit and a ticket home!
See more »


Featured in Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

An actor's movie...
31 July 2004 | by (Austin, TX) – See all my reviews

"Command Decision" is a wonderful film filled with several great performances. It's Gable's movie, but he's very capably supported by Walter Pigeon, Brian Donlevy and John Hodiak, who nearly equals his "Lifeboat" performance.

Pigeon is especially good in the roll of a senior commander who is more concerned with the political considerations of the war effort than the tactical and strategic goals. (Not without reason - The film correctly details the perilous and tenuous position that the 8th Air Force found itself in during the worst combat period of 1943.)

One of the best scenes in the film is a very long speech given by Pigeon, wherein he explains his reasons for fighting the good fight to keep American air power strong. The scene is a good 6 or 7 minutes long, one camera shot, entirely done without cuts. It must have been rehearsed extensively as it requires about 10 actors to interact with Pigeon at several times, all the while he is moving about the room. Seamless, and very well done! This remarkable scene is followed up with one almost as long, given by Gable.

The drama is occasionally broken up with comic moments provided by Van Johnson, as a savvy sergeant, and Clinton Sunberg as a fastidious aide to Pigeon's General Kane.

If you like to watch actors banging away with words instead of guns, this is the war movie for you.

38 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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