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20 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Our first jet war ace

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
1 April 2005

Joseph J. McConnell, Jr. was America's first triple jet ace in what was the first war fought with jets by both sides. Since World War I, one became an ace as a pilot when one had confirmed downings of five of the enemy. Mr. McConnell had nineteen to his credit when he was taken out of combat in Korea and given a stateside assignment.

The McConnell Story is about his life and Alan Ladd does a good job in portraying the man as he meets and marries the woman of his dreams and struggles to become a pilot in the military. The woman of his dreams in this case is June Allyson who played more devoted wives and girls next door than anyone else in Hollywood in her time. Usually Allyson worked with either James Stewart or Van Johnson as her leading men over at MGM. She and Ladd had a good chemistry here.

The chemistry may have been partly fueled by rumors of an affair on set. Allyson had a few of them in her day, but this was the only time it was ever rumored about Ladd according to his biographer Beverly Linet. Ladd worked hard to keep a wholesome image before the public and that might have been the reason he and Allyson never worked together again.

And The McConnell Story is one wholesome picture. If it weren't for the Army/Air Force scenes you might think you were watching Ward and June Cleaver. But that's how America likes its heroes and Hollywood was obeying the box office.

It should also be remembered that Korea was also the first war of the newly formed United States Air Force. Whereas most country's had a separate air service during World War I or set them up shortly thereafter, America waited until 1947 when the Army Air Corps was separated and became a separate service. The Defense Department in both the Truman and Eisenhower eras wanted to popularize the new service and encouraged Hollywood to make pictures to do so.

The McConnell Story is nice entertainment. It's one of Alan Ladd's best post Paramount films.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Real Life Intruded

Author: Albert Mazeika from United States
8 January 2007

Not a GREAT film, but certainly watchable. You could easily swap June Allyson's "stalwart wife" performance here with her roles in STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND and THE GLENN MILLER STORY. Alan Ladd was an excellent choice for the title role as you can see at this site: Sadly, the ending of the film had to be re-written when Captain McConnell was killed during a test flight of an F86 at Edwards AFB in May of 1954 while the film was still in production. Of Note: McConnell was indeed shot down himself, but he managed to not only nurse his plane to where he could eject and be rescued at sea ("I barely got wet"), he also shot down the Mig (piloted by a Russian "Ace") that had gotten him! He last three kills came on his final day of combat missions whereupon his commanding General ordered his top ACE home.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

" Alan And June Real Chemistry "

Author: PamelaShort from Canada
27 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This fictional biography of jet test pilot, Joesph McConnell, does an effective job of sticking close to the facts. For that alone it deserves credit. Alan Ladd does an admirable portrayal of pilot McConnell as he learns the ropes of flying and enters often into a number of impressive, tense and exciting flights. This film has plenty of thrilling aerial sequences, which are not to bad for the cinematography of the time. They help to make up for any little drags in the story. James Whitmore lends a fine performance in his supporting role. June Allyson plays her usual stand by your man, perfect wife part. When I first watched this film, I noticed a definite strong chemistry between Alan Ladd and June Allyson, so much so, I became to believe that they were really married. I came across a copy of Allyson's autobiography and she does indeed talk about her and Ladd having very strong feelings for one another, but they did not go so far as to have an affair. She was very upset though, when she heard of his passing. Upon re-watching the film, because of their strong attraction for each other during the filming, it serves to make their portrayals very believable. This a very enjoyable film to watch about an important time in aeronautical history.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Film Highlights Courage During Trying Times of the Cold War

Author: Shannon Box ( from Canyon Lake, Texas
3 September 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

[WARNING: This review may contain "spoilers."]

McConnell's unlikely rise into the ranks of Korean era jet pilots is explored in this movie. Despite washing out of medical school and nearly being bounced out of flight school for being AWOL, McConnell doggedly pursues his dream. Eventually, circumstances permit McConnell to become a jet pilot. And then he really shines.

McConnell becomes an ace in short order and doesn't stop there. Eventually, he becomes America's first triple jet ace. Recognizing his importance back stateside, Washington grounds him from further combat.

The film concludes with McConnell test piloting an improved variant of the F-86 Sabre.

Many things make this a worthwhile film. To wit, the aerial sequences are exciting, especially if the viewer is fortunate enough to see the widescreen presentation. The character development is satisfactory, albeit a bit cliched. The real winning element of 'The McConnell Story' is the underlying story of the times.

Shortly after Korea, we learned that the only edge we had in aerial combat was in numbers and training. The fact was that the Mig-15 was everything and more than what we had to go against it. Modern audiences may find it difficult to believe that America was actually behind the curve in jet design and performance in the early to mid 1950's.

This is a story about perseverance, sacrifice, and ultimate victory. Eight out of Ten.

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This sure could have been better!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
31 August 2016

I read up on the real Captain McConnell and after watching the movie, I wanna read some more. No, it isn't because he was such an interesting guy, but it's because I found the entire first portion of the film ridiculous and impossible to believe. No soldier could have been THIS bad without spending significant time in Leavenworth, the way he meets his wife is stupid and it all seemed like one cliché after another strung together to make an eye-rolling film! It's sad, as Joseph McConnell was a true war hero...and this part of the film makes him seem like a horse's butt! What follows is his career as a bomber navigator on B-24s*, his entry into pilot's school after the war and his becoming the world's most successful jet pilot ace during the Korean War.

Apart from seeming unreal, most of the rest of the film is pretty much by the numbers...not terrible but also not all that involving or good. It's interesting that they chose June Allyson to play the wife, as she would soon go on to playing a VERY similar role in the air film "Strategic Air Command". Otherwise, a film that just should have been better...much better.

*The film used some very grainy stock footage. The worst of it was McConnell's B-24 the film it was a B-17...a very, very different looking plane. It wouldn't taken much effort to use the right footage...just a desire to at least get SOME of the film right! Fortunately, the Korean War sequences were better with the use of actual Soviet MiG-15 footage as well as American F-84s doubling as the MiGs (since none were available to the film crew, this was about as close looking as they'd be able get to the enemy planes).

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Life imitates art... or is it the other way around?

Author: joanna-105 from United States
12 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The McConnell Story has couple of things going for it and number of things wrong with it. I'll start with the "wrongs": if you are going to do a propaganda movie, be more subtle about it and don't clobber the viewer with frequent boring speeches on the subject (including opening address by a USAF general, no less!!); use the medium of pictures (movies are a visual art, after all) and show us the message instead of reading it out loud to us (as if it was the radio). Second problem with this movie is Alan Ladd - he is too old to play McConnell. Although he was only maybe 41 or 42 when filming this picture (still: 10 years older than McConnell at the time of his death), Ladd looks here closer to 55 (too much alcohol, cigarettes and sun, perhaps). He cannot pull 23 year old McConnell being rambunctious youngster in the Army during WWII and he can barely manage 30 year old ace in the Korean War. He just doesn't look the part. The suspension of disbelief was just too great for this Alan Ladd fan. Having said that, the movie gets going every time June Allyson and Alan Ladd are together on the screen. The first time I saw this movie (not knowing at all the "behind the scenes" story), I though there was great warmth and subtlety in the portrayal of love and friendship in the McConnell household. After I read June Allyson's autobiography, however, and found out a little more about making of this movie (and its "aftermath" in Ladd's marriage) I re-watched it with a renewed interest - and oh what a difference. Every line and love scene has gained a deeper, more tragic meaning. One feels almost uncomfortable watching the doomed romance of two unhappily married stars unfold so publicly, before one's very eyes. I especially "teared up" during the scene when Ladd's "Mac" has to bid silent adieu to his wife (Allyson) before going off to the Korean War. Yes, folks: you are watching the final nail to Alan Ladd's coffin in a beautiful WarnerColor (although it would take him almost another decade to finish himself off with booze and pills). I recommend this movie to Ladd and/or Allyson fans, if only for that biographical reason.

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Ladd and Allyson Make Perfect Couple in Bio-Pic with Heart!

Author: JLRMovieReviews from United States
11 March 2015

This film is based on the life and war career of Joseph "Mac" McConnell, as played by Alan Ladd, and June Allyson plays his wife, of whom he nicknamed "Butch." "Mac" was a much-decorated jet fighter of the Korean War. But the facts don't make the film and are not the crux (focused on) here. Even from the very beginning we are drawn in, as Mac is on the run from and wanted by the MPs, because he went flying during his Army tour. Immediately, we see the man, as Alan Ladd shows him to be a dreamer and a man of action. On his flight from them, he is given a ride by a stranger and tries to go out his kitchen window, when cornered by them, only to have June Allyson catching sight of him at the window. She of course think he's crazy and proceeds to turn him in with the MPs, only to find him gone when she returns to the kitchen. The obvious happens: he is taken by her and she succumbs to his charm. While we see him evolve into the jet pilot and fighter he will become, we are brought into their inner circle of love. Because she loves him, she tries to get him out of the line of fire and at a desk job, but like usual, a wife's attempt to change her husband doesn't pan out. Because she loves him, she worries about him, not only when he flies, but when he's gone to the store, when he's crossing the street, because that's what you do when you love someone. The love and warmth and feelings shared here are almost greater, than in any true-to-life movie she made with Jimmy Stewart. By the end of the film, we have felt much for these people, as we know them very well. "The McConnell Story" has become obviously one of my favorite Alan Ladd and/or June Allyson films. The life and war service of Joseph McConnell is depicted here, but the love he and his wife shared is what we remember from this film - one of the best biography-pictures (bio-pics) you're ever likely to see - "The McConnell Story."

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Nervous wife waiting on the ground while her husband goes aloft and ..... zzzzzzz

Author: Matthew_Capitano from Beverly Hills, CA
6 July 2016

You've seen it before, the wife biting her nails as her man takes to the skies.

This film is almost as cliché as a script where the pilot loses his nerve and can't fly for awhile. Alan Ladd is still short and still takes little choppy steps when he walks, like he's a 5-year old who wants his ball or else he's gonna tell Mom.

Fortunately, no milk crates can be seen here (Ladd use to have to stand on milk crates when he did a scene with a woman because he was such a shrimp). However, he still looks like a dwarf even when he's flying and the camera can't hide that.

June Allyson is cute, but James Whitmore probably gives the best performance. OK for fans of these types of movies.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

McConnell Story ***

Author: edwagreen from United States
7 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Alan Ladd is the rebellious young man intent upon flying planes. He gets into all sorts of difficulties in the pursuit of his goal.

While fleeing the MP's, he meets up with June Allyson, who made a career of portraying self-sacrificing wives, with unfortunate plane crash results and other mishaps along the way.

You just can't take the lust out of McConnell in his desire to fly. Of course, he went on to become an ace pilot, especially during the Korean conflict.

Despite raising a family, he cannot give up flying and you know that this will lead to tension with Allyson before she comes to her senses. You also know that tragedy is around the corner, but Allyson will always be the resolute wife.

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1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

very lame screenplay and boring storyline

Author: BasicLogic from United States
2 March 2015

i always thought Alan Ladd was not an exciting actor. his height was not impressive and always gave me a midget feeling, an actor too short to play big roles in any movie. if it was not the script that made him a greater hero, he would never become a memorable actor like other taller actors. about 95% of this film was unnecessary yada yada scenes and the other 5% left was barely watchable which included the boring air dog fights with the MIGs that didn't seem with any suspenseful tension, the dialog during the air support mission also sounded boring, then the small part of the 5% showed how this guy as a test pilot and crashed himself to death in a fireball also didn't create any heartfelt feeling at all to me. this film was one of the worst military films that i've ever viewed and very very forgettable and not even needed to write a positive review.

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