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I didn't really know what to expect when I started watching this but I
am glad I made the decision to do that.
Karl Maiden plays an experienced Air Force crew chief who's job it is to keep the planes flying. He has spent some 20 years in the air force when he gets an offer to work for a company for multiple times his current salary. His late teens/early 20s daughter is very vocal about him taking up this offer and his wife is leaning towards that as well. So he decides to put in his resignation papers with the Air Force but they take some time to go through.
At the same time major changes are taking place on the base he is stationed at. An old acquaintance, a man who Maiden's character is not too fond of due to past events, becomes a senior officer at this base and the unit is chosen to become the first one in the US Air Force to take delivery of the new B-52 bombers which they must now get to know. Everybody wishes for him to stay and help out with the new planes and he decides to do that until his resignation papers are processed. During this time, quite a few things happen, both in his personal/family life as well as some adventures with the new planes.
What I liked about this film is that the drama isn't forced or too overbearing. It is more down to earth, if even to say realistic and something one can relate to. Another huge bonus is that the film had the full cooperation of the Air Force so there are no miniatures or painted backdrops. All the planes are real (quite surprising that they'd feature America's latest achievement in aerial weaponry in a film as much as this) and the sets are actual air bases. Its a pleasure to watch all this big hardware moving around.
If you like films about the air force with a bit of personal drama thrown in, this is quite good.
i just saw this from the DVD release.Its an enjoyable movie,as long as one doesn't ask too much.This is a simple story of a career technician of the air-force,and his problems with his daughter and a Colonel who dates her and whom he knew back from the Korean war.Natalie Wood who plays the daughter is in her blooming youth here. Malden is a pleasure to watch in his simple working man role,also his life doesn't look half-bad,he has a lovely wife and daughter and a job he loves and he is really good at.In fact,the America in the 50's look in beautiful widescreen and Technicolor,is the main the thing i liked about this movie. The subplot is about the B-52 bomber of course,and the movie shows in detail this huge aircraft.Its not really a plane very suited for movies,unlike fighter planes,but for airplane fans its interesting. All in all,i think its a decent movie but mostly for people who like airplanes.
This was a popular and often-run feature in the late 50s which had the
advantage of a good cast in Karl Malden, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., and
"Flight" was very popular science in the 50s and the subject matter produced many films with big stars (Jimmy Stewart played in more than one of these, "Strategic Air Command" and "Spirit of St. Louis" to name a couple).
"Bombers B-52" and "X-15" (with Charles Bronson) shared double bills in my neighborhood on more than one occasion, as these films were likely to draw in a good crowd of young and enthusiastic boys who were probably building the plastic model kits at home as well.
This movie was made at the same period as Strategic Air Command, Bridges at Toko-Ri, The Hunters and other wave the flag Cold War error. Yes as stated it does have some overstated patriotic, my job is the most important job in the world sentiment to it. That being said, I am a former USAF maintenance technician who did work on B-52's amongst other airframes in my 20 year career. I enjoyed the movie for several reasons, one the airplane shots with the B-47, F-86, and B-52B's. There are a number of at best questionable plots in the movie but all in all not bad if you like early Air Force movies. And in opposition to a previous input, the maintenance tech on these airframes is all important to the scheme of thing. The "O's" get to fly them but could not do a thing with out the maintainers keeping them ready to fly.
I was stationed at Castle AFB from 1956 to 1960 (93rd Field Maintenance Squadron) and watched the filming of the flight line segments. I even have some black & white pictures of Natalie with some of my squadron mates. The high point was the low altitude flyover of a flight of B-52s. The segment where the landing gear is jammed was done in our maintenance hanger with the bomber on jacks with wheel well doors open. An iris on the lighting gave the impression of the wheel well doors opening as the iris was opened. In the finished film it looked very realistic. My one complaint was the scene of a B-52 flying with it's gear down after being refueled by a KC-97, that just wasn't done.
Interesting as well as tedious film at times , though . The picture
contains a silly and boring love story ; being designed to showcase the
US Air Force's brand-new B-52 Stratofortress bomber, including actual
footage of jet plane and as such the studio received complete
cooperation from the Air Force . As the B-52 Stratofortress bombers
weighed 500,000 pounds and could fly at a speed of 650+ miles per hour
and travel 17,000 miles without having to land and they could refuel in
mid-air . This aerial drama deals with Sgt. Chuch Brennan (Karl Malden
who steals the show as expert sergeant) always disliked playboy and
hotshot, Col. Jim Herlihy (Efrem Zimbalist , he replaced Tab Hunter) .
Now Chuck has even more reason to, Jim is dating his daughter, Lois
(Natalie Wood ,during shooting, she was named "Miss Stratosphere of
1957" and "Sweetheart of Castle Air Force Base") . This movie's
dedication shown at the end of the film states: "With grateful
appreciation for the cooperation of the United States Air Force we
proudly dedicate this picture to the crew chiefs and ground personnel ,
the indispensable men who contribute so much to our airpower."
This is a family drama , including an usual love story between a pilot colonel and a gorgeous young with her sergeant father objecting , interwoven with nice aerial footage of B 52 maneuvers . This film is a Warner Brother official studio tribute to the B-52 Stratofortress bomber air craft and the United States Air Force. This was apparently the first film in which the US Air Force's new B-52 Stratofortress bomber was featured. It appeared in a number of films afterward, notably A Gathering of Eagles (1963), Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), and By Dawn's Early Light (1990). Good quartet protagonist as Karl Malden , Efrem Zimbalist , Natalie Wood and Marsha Hunt . Although Natalie Wood received star billing with her name above the title, she actually only had a minor part . Fine plethora of secondaries , many of them uncredited , such as Ann Doran , John Doucette , Stuart Whitman , Bing Russell , Will Hutchins and recently deceased Juanita Moore . Colorful cinematography in Cinemascope by William H. Clothier , John Ford's usual , it was shot on location in in Merced County (California) Air Force base . Thrilling as well as rousing musical score by Leonard Rosenman .
The motion picture was professionally directed by Gordon Douglas. This is one of various and professional works of his long career as filmmaker . He was a Hollywood veteran director, directing early movies such as ¨Little rascals¨, ¨Spanky¨. He was an expert on adventures genre as ¨Black arrow¨ and ¨Fortunes of Captain Blood¨ , both starred by Louis Hayward ; but he's mainly specialist filmmaking Western , his first was ¨ Girl rush (1944)¨ and in the 40s directed ¨Doolins of Oklahoma¨ and ¨The Nevadan¨ for duo Harry Joe Brown-Randolph Scott . He went on directing Alan Ladd's vehicles as ¨Iron Mistress¨ and ¨The fiend who walked west¨ which resulted to be a Western rendition to ¨Kiss of death¨. In the 50s he proved his specialty on Western in the films starred by Clint Walker as ¨Fort Dobbs¨ ,¨Yellowstone Kelly¨, ¨Gold of seven Saints¨ and about legendary bandits as ¨Doolins of Oklahoma¨ and ¨Great Missouri raid¨ . After that , he filmed ¨Chuka(1967)¨ that bears remarkable resemblance to ¨Only the valiant¨ , the remake ¨Stagecoach (1966)¨ , and the superior ¨Rio Conchos¨. Douglas usually worked for Frank Sinatra in various films such as ¨Lady in Cement¨, ¨Tony Rome¨, ¨The detective¨ , ¨Robin and the 7 Hoods¨. Bombers B 52 , rating : Passable and acceptable , 6 . Well worth seeing .
I am NOT being negative when I say that "Bombers B-52" is a propaganda
piece. Not all propaganda is necessarily evil and the film clearly is a
giant recruiting film for the US Air Force. It features their new B-52
bomber and is intended as a publicity piece. However, he's the odd
part...the film is also, at times, a bit like a soap opera. While the
general plot is a lot like the superior "Strategic Air Command" where a
man struggles to decide whether to stay on active duty or move to the
private sector, there is the soapy element because the man with this
struggle (Karl Malden) is under the impression that his Commanding
Officer (Efram Zimbalest) is a playboy trying to wood Malden's daughter
(Natalie Wood). Of course, it's all just a misunderstanding that could
EASILY be explained away, but most of the film Malden and Zimbalest
grunt and do their macho posturing instead of just talking. This makes
an otherwise decent film a bit clichéd. During a few sequences, you
really wish they'd have edited out the schmaltz and theatrics! It's a
shame, as the air sequences are very nice (with a few amazing aerial
shots of the bomber from above in mid-flight) and the film is a decent
historical look into the Cold War.
A few things to note in the film: The interesting ejection sequence--it really opened my eyes about the way a crew would leave the plane if there was an emergency as well as the low flyover in Egypt--which surely would have resulted in the Egyptians shooting at the plane as well as an international incident!
If you love anything and everything about the B-52 than you'll love this film. That's what caused me to give it a six. It would have been higher; but this was a really dumb story. A really good cast was squandered on a poorly written story. The underlying story is about a misunderstanding that came out Karl Malden's character jumping to a conclusion about his commanding officer; that he doesn't bother to clarify. He just holds his bitterness about his conclusion until he finds himself working with Zimbalist again. Both men are assigned to the testing program. To make the story more interesting, I guess; Malden has a beautiful daughter (Natalie Wood). While the first part of this story was in Korea, the rest of the story is about the B-52 and Karl Malden trying to keep Effram Zimbalist away from his daughter. Because he thought Zimbalist had been a coward in Korea (and didn't bother to talk to him about it), so did everything he could to keep Zimbalist away from his daughter. He goes so far as resigning from the air force to be able to get his daughter away. However he winds up having to fly another long test flight while his resignation is being processed. During this test flight there is a major failure and most of the crew has bail out; the pilot (Zimbalist) stays with the plane and gets it back to the air base. It's here that the story gets really silly. When Malden bailed out they didn't get a very good fix on his position. So when the search is going badly Zimbalist's character decided he was going to take part in the search. So we have a story where a full colonel is riding in helicopter, taking part in a search and rescue operation. They get to an area to where they think he is; and they put the colonel down on the ground to search for Malden. He finds him, and this eventually gives him the chance to find out he was wrong about Zimbalist, all along. In the end all is forgiven and Malden now wants Zimbalist to marry his daughter. Even though Zimbalist is twenty years older then the girl he is pursuing (Natalie Wood). In this story the crew is working with the very first B-52's and supposedly doing some kind of advanced testing; the thing that is hard to believe is that there are no people from Boeing (the maker of the plane) working with this plane. Advanced testing like this is done with major involvement with the plane; they would even be flying on the plane during this kind of testing. And in the end, in this film the Air Force seems to be making all their decision about the B-52 based on the advice of one senior enlisted man. It's difficult to spell out how really silly this story is. It's a guilt pleasure that i have watched this film more then once. But I watch for the scenes with the 52. The underlying story is rubbish.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 1957 cars are just -- well -- swell! Natalie Wood gets to drive a
creamy yellow Ford convertible and Efron Zimbalist has a snazzy scarlet
sports model. Why it could turn you green with envy -- seafoam green.
The rest of the movie is a disappointment. Nothing seems quite right; it's all a little cockeyed. The plot: Zimbalist is an Air Force officer and Malden is the best flight engineer that ever existed. Malden is devoted to the USAF but his family, especially his daughter, Wood, want him to retire and take a job where he'll wear a suit and tie and "be somebody important." Well, there's a conflict right there.
On top of that, Zimbalist has a reputation as a ladies' man and becomes seriously interested in Natalie Wood -- as who wouldn't? -- and Malden dislikes Zimbalist intensely and does everything but move mountains to end the romance, even though it's as innocent a romance as 1957 demanded.
I don't know exactly what went wrong. The USAF/CEO problem is hackneyed. I mean, after all, that was a sub plot in just about every military movie John Wayne ever made -- career versus marriage and a settled existence. I should add that the settled existence as represented here is utterly bourgeois and materialistic, a spiritless void of apricot carpets and sparkling kitchens. Yukk.
The Zimbalist/Malden conflict is botched from the beginning. In Korea, years earlier, Zimbalist endangered the field by insisting that his F-86 be repaired at night, requiring the turning on of lights and consequently "visitors" from the other side. After Zimbalist's take off, a crewman is killed by strafing. Throughout the movie, for six years, Malden believes (mistakenly) that Zimbalist forced the take off because of a hot date in Tokyo. So Malden certainly doesn't want a guy like Zimbalist courting his daughter, probably uttering hoarse, goaty cries while humping her in the back seat of his crimson convertible. The problem with this plot is that the movie shows us Malden as disliking Zimbalist BEFORE the lethal event. And the clumsy writing gives us no reason for the animus.
The acting is as dull as the furniture except for Malden. Malden overacts. Every word is shouted. If he's supposed to be nervous, we watch a manic episode. The direction is careless. At the end, with Malden in a hospital bed, Natalie Wood must apologize to him for being bratty and demanding. It's her scene, and it's a long one. And the director, Gordon Douglas, doesn't allow her to build up to sobs. The whole SCENE has her in a torrent of remorseful tears, making the episode not just tedious but embarrassing.
The scenes of flight are pedestrian. No sense is given of life within that thin aluminum tube at 40,000 feet. We don't get a sense of the layout. The flight deck is a mock up as are the other two sets. Leonard Rosenman's score matches the quality of the film itself -- lacking courage, vigor, and veracity.
Despite these weaknesses, I'm sure the production had the eager cooperation of both Boeing and the USAF. It's practically a recruitment film.
A pleasant enough Air Force propaganda piece, with appropriate thanks
to this branch of our country's military service in the closing
credits; it also includes all the requisite elements for a CinemaScope
production impressive widescreen shots of the titled aircraft taking
off, landing and an in-flight refueling, and even some impressive
aerial shots of North Africa (including the Pyramids). Its story and
the dramatic elements that hold it together are fairly rote and not
It begins with a 19 year-old Natalie Wood, playing the daughter of Karl Malden and Marsha Hunt, and being courted by 40 year-old Efrem Zimbalist Jr.. Of course, Malden's character isn't too keen about it while, surprisingly, Hunt's doesn't seem to care. The fact that Malden plays a career master sergeant mechanic that doesn't trust nor respect flyboy Zimbalist Jr. (per their history during the Korean War six years earlier), who's now his commanding officer, is a regularly recycled plot point as well.
Then again, the film's message is meant to convey the value of the B-52 to our nation's security to the audience of its time (during the Cold War) whereas other superior dramas (Strategic Air Command (1955) and, later, A Gathering of Eagles (1963)) were focused on the U.S.A.F.'s leadership challenges.
Directed by Gordon Douglas, its screenplay was written by Irving Wallace from the novel by Sam Rolfe. Movie fans will recognize Dick Elliott, Juanita Moore (don't blink or you'll miss her), and Stuart Whitman among the uncredited actors in the cast.
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