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This series chronicles the adventures--in the air and on the ground--of the men of the 918th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Eighth Air Force. First commanded by irascible General Frank ... See full summary »
In this story of the early days of daylight bombing raids over Nazi Germany, General Frank Savage must take command of a "hard luck" bomber group. Much of the story deals with his struggle to whip his group into a disciplined fighting unit in spite of heavy losses, and withering attacks by German fighters over their targets. Actual combat footage is used in this tense war drama. Written by
KC Hunt <email@example.com>
"Twelve O'Clock High" is an example of a pilot's enemy position call. During World War II pilots would call-out the positions of enemy airplanes by referring to their bearings via the use of a pretend face of a clock. In this case, 12 O'Clock meant the enemy was directly ahead, whereas 6 O'Clock would mean directly behind. "High" or "Low" referred to whether the enemy was above or below the airplane respectively. "Even" meant that the enemy was level with the pilot's plane. See more »
On the ball bearing bombing mission the camera shows a close up of the exterior of the cockpits of Picadilly Lilly, Reluctant Dragon and Fluffy Fuzzy. All shots show each plane's nose art above the navigator's windows to identify the different planes and crews. Actual nose art was painted below the navigator's windows. See more »
General Frank Savage:
Rights, Gately? You've got a right to explain to General Pritchard cowardice, desertion of your post, a yellow streak a mile wide! And maybe he can explain it to your father so that they'll both be proud of you! You can tell him right now.
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Without any question, indisputably the greatest WWII film ever (except, perhaps for "Bridge on the River Kwai"; but that's a WWII story only in the same sense that "Moby Dick" is a book about a whale). There are no weaknesses in this movie. The screenplay is perfect, rooted as it is in the historical reality of the U.S.'s attempt to prove the superiority of Daylight Precision Bombing over the Brits favored strategy of night bombing. The terrible human pressures it placed on young American pilots AND their leaders has never been so well-portrayed on film. Dramatic tension is perfectly manipulated, and the characters are well-drawn, sympathetic and fully developed. Every member of this superb cast gives this great material the great acting it deserves. The usage of actual WWII bombing footage adds to the sense of reality. The psychological drama - what "maximum effort" does to people - is at the core of the story and supercedes the mere military aspect. And the device of the framing scenes - Harvey Stovall (Dean Jagger) recollecting the story while standing in the abandoned airstrip - is brilliant. It gives the tale an overwhelmingly bittersweet feeling of "long-ago" nostalgia. It is so powerful that Spielberg must have consciously had 12 O'clock High in mind when he used the same device in Saving Private Ryan to make that whole film a flashback, just as this one is. To hell with the flashy flamboyance of Citizen Kane; I would have to give 12 O'clock High a better shot at being "the best movie ever made". Film buffs &/or devotees of WWII history who haven't seen this one are living a deprived existence.
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