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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
The true story of General Billy Mitchell, a pioneering crusader for the Army's fledgling air corp. In spite of an impressive performance during the First World War, the commanders of America's armed forces still think of the airplane as little more then a carnival attraction. Even after sinking an "unsinkable" captured German battleship from the air, Mitchell sees funds dry up and friends die due to poor equipment. He is court-martialed after questioning the loyalty of his superiors for allowing the air corp to deteriorate. Written by
KC Hunt <email@example.com>
The Mitchell family was very unhappy with the film, especially the casting of the tall, laconic Gary Cooper in the lead role. The real Billy Mitchell was short with an explosive temper. The family thought James Cagney would have been ideal. See more »
In the opening sequence Colonel Mitchell arrives for the test he is flying a Grumman JF "Duck". This airplane was not first flown until 1932 when the date of the scene is 1921. See more »
This movie which is supposed to be about Billy Mitchell, an early proponent of air power and of his subsequent court martial for insubordination was entertaining, but as with most Hollywood productions which are made from true stories, was filled with errors.
During the first part of the movie, Billy Mitchell allegedly violated orders by using one-ton bombs that he was told not to use. That is a falsehood. Mitchell had permission to use the heavier bombs. In addition, in the movie, the general overseeing the bombing tests was a General Guthrie. There was no such person.
The movie showed Mitchell being reduced in rank for violating orders which was another falsehood. He was reduced in rank, but not for this reason. As previously stated, Mitchell had permission to use the heavier bombs.
The movie also portrayed Mitchell as being a bachelor, when in reality, he was married. In fact, pictures of Mitchell at his court martial show his wife sitting next to him!
The movie also showed Mitchell telling Congressman Reed, that he wouldn't go along with Reed wanting to challenge Army members of the court for prejudice. In reality, Mitchell had one general removed for that reason. After his removal, the general remarked that he and Mitchell were now enemies.
Just once, I wish that Hollywood, when making a movie of a true event, would make it like it really happened and stop changing things to suit what they want the public to see.
I think the biggest mis-casting was having Gary Cooper playing Billy Mitchell. The real Billy Mitchell was a firebrand who wasn't afraid to speak his mind. Cooper, in the movie, was more laid back and just didn't impress me as being the right actor to play Mitchell.
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