U.S. Navy Commander Stanley Blair (Richard Denning),Korean-war ace and born leader, is trying to weld together a Navy jet-fighter attack squadron based on the carrier U.S.S. Essex. A feud arises between cocky ensign James Delaney (William Courtney)and Lieutenant Richard HUggins (Don Haggerty), ambitious for promotion but troubled by his wife, Marg (Gloria Jean, nightclub singer who wants him to take shore duty. After Huggins disputes Delaney's claim that he has spotted an unidentified submarine, Blair offers Huggins a transfer but the latter refuses. On a training flight, the squadron runs into dense fog and Huggins gets lost, his instruments out and fuel running low. Delaney volunteers to lead Huggins to safety. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The film was originally to take place during WWII and the main characters were originally black and Jewish, and often subject to discrimination by the crew. The U.S. military did not like this and demanded changes by writer/director Cy Roth. Infuriated by this, Roth wrote a scathing letter to his congressman and President Dwight D. Eisenhower; unfortunately for Roth, this was the period of the McCarthy-era "Red Scare", and the letter got him branded as a "Communist" and he was blacklisted in the industry. In the end, Roth accepted the changes requested. See more »
During the World War II flashback sequence, the fighter pilots are sitting in aircraft with bubble-style canopies during close-ups. However, all fighters used by the U.S. Navy in combat in the Pacific Theater had metal fairings behind the canopy; a few types with bubble canopies were undergoing trials in 1945, but Japan surrendered before they saw action. The actors are likely sitting in a Douglas AD Skyraider, a postwar attack bomber that was the only single-seat prop-powered Navy aircraft in widespread service at the time of filming in 1954. See more »
This film is enjoyable mainly as a historical artifact for aviation buffs. It depicts an era of naval aviation neglected in mainline Hollywood features- the mid-1950s after the Korean War but before the advent of supersonic naval jets. Almost all flying sequences were apparently assembled from stock footage of aircraft such as Grumman F9F-6 Cougars and McDonnell F2H Banshees flying from early post-WWII straight-deck US Navy carriers. We also see North American FJ-3 Furies, an F2H-2P Banshee, an FH-1 Phantom, and Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopters.
Unfortunately, the movie offers little else to recommend it. The dialog is stilted, the script contains numerous red herrings, the plot is sometimes hard to follow, and the main characters are clichéd. The lead actors generally do a decent job of working with what little they were given, and the director does a better job of keeping the plot moving than in other 50s B-movie groaners, but this often doesn't amount to much. Almost all of the character interaction occurs in a handful of rooms on an aircraft carrier where background noise and enlisted personnel are remarkably absent, probably due to budget limitations. The extensive stock footage is not used very skillfully; some shots are blatantly repeated several times in rapid succession, and aviation buffs will spot numerous continuity errors as the characters "land" a different type of aircraft than they were "flying" in the previous scene. It doesn't appear that many flying sequences were shot specifically for this movie.
This movie is not stiflingly boring like "The Starfighters", but it's no "Bridges at Toko-Ri" or "Strategic Air Command"- not even close.
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