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Command Decision (1948)

Passed | | Action, Drama, War | February 1949 (USA)
Army generals struggle with the decision to prioritize bombing the German factories producing new jet fighters over the extremely high casualties the mission will cost.


Sam Wood


William R. Laidlaw (screenplay), George Froeschel (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Clark Gable ... Brigadier General K.C. 'Casey' Dennis
Walter Pidgeon ... Major General Roland Goodlow Kane
Van Johnson ... Technical Sergeant Immanuel T. Evans
Brian Donlevy ... Brigadier General Clifton I. Garnet
Charles Bickford ... Elmer Brockhurst
John Hodiak ... Colonel Edward Rayton Martin
Edward Arnold ... Congressman Arthur Malcolm
Marshall Thompson ... Captain George Washington Bellpepper Lee
Richard Quine ... Major George Rockton
Cameron Mitchell ... Lieutenant Ansel Goldberg
Clinton Sundberg ... Major Homer V. Prescott
Ray Collins ... Major Desmond Lansing
Warner Anderson ... Colonel Earnest Haley
John McIntire ... Major Belding Davis
Moroni Olsen ... Congressman Stone


General Dennis of the US Force in England in World War II finds that he must order his planes deeper and deeper into Germany to prevent the production of military jet planes that will turn the tide of battle to the Germans. He must fight congressmen, and his own chain of command to win the political battle before he can send his planes out. His problem is complicated by a very narrow window of good weather necessary to allow his effort to be successful. Adapted from a stage play, it attempts to look at the challenges of command in the political arena. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Heroes, cowards, fighters, braggarts, liars...and what goes on in their hearts! See more »


Action | Drama | War


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

February 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sublime decisión See more »


Box Office


$2,467,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,901,000, 31 December 1948

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,685,000, 31 December 1948
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Black and White (archive footage)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


French censorship visa # 8763. See more »


When Van Johnson is in Gable's office alone in the very beginning of the film, someone comes in and gives him a model plane and he places it on a shelf behind him. However, when Gable comes in soon afterwards the shelf is empty. See more »


James Carwood: What's the answer, Brockie, all guts and no brain?
Elmer Brockhurst: No. That's putting it too simply. Dennis is one of those boys whose brain is fascinated by guts. He loves this lousy war.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Featured in Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Hard decisions in the present save countless lives in the future
29 May 2005 | by sol-kaySee all my reviews

(There May Be Spoilers) Launching "Operation Stich" a week ahead of time, due to the favorable weather conditions over Germany, Brig. Gen. K.C Dennis', Clark Gable, B-17 Bombers suffer the loss of 48 aircraft on the first day's mission.

Going some 600 miles into Germany, without fighter escort, in a triangular bombardment of the key German industrial cities of Posenleben Schweinhafen and Fendelhorst. Gen. Dennis is determined to take them out Before the weather worsens and doesn't care how many planes and crews it costs him to do it.

The next days bombing of Schweinhafen cost another 24 B-17's. Due to German ingenuity in camouflaging the factories there the USAAF bombed the wrong city making it necessary to go on a bomb run the next day on the real Schweinhafen. By now the USAAF crews are at the point of refusing to go on their missions over Germany feeling that Gen.Dennis is out of his mind by sending then to certain death.

Gen. Dennis' superior and friend Maj. Gen. Kane, Walter Pigeon, is very upset with his actions and is about to relive him of his duties as combat-wing commander. Since Gen. Dennis launched his assault on Germany he lost some 70 bombers in two days compared to the loss of under 20 bombers lost by the RAF during the same period.

In a private meeting with Gen. Kane and other USAAF top personnel Gen. Dennis makes his case for the actions that he's taken even if it coast him his command of the B-17 combat-wing. The Germans are developing this revolutionary jet-fighter, the Lantze-Wolf. The Nazi Super-Plane is so superior to anything that the allies have that if it's manufactured in mass and put in the air the German Luftwaffe would drive the USAAF and RAF from the skies of Europe. It would make it impossible for a cross channel invasion of Europe the next year, 1944, and cost the allies the war.

Unable to open a second front in Western Europe and with the Luftwaffe having total air supremacy will force the allies, the USA UK and USSR, to agree to an armistice and peace treaty with the Germans on Hitler's terms. The bombing of those cities deep in Germany by Gen. Dennis' bombers will destroy the Germans ability to mass-produce the Lantez-Wolf. Thus save in the future countless American and Allied soldiers lives at the cost of the heavy, but necessary, losses in B-17 and their crews now.

This causes Gen. Kane to look the other way, knowing how right Gen. Dennis is, by allowing him to send his bombers out the next day and finally knock out the German industrial city of Schweinhafen. The bombing raid cost the life of Gen. Dennis best friend Col. Martin,John Hodiak. It's also in Schweinhafen where the jet-fighter is being assembled and in the end because of the heavy losses in that bombing raid Gen. Kane is forced, reluctantly, to relive Gen. Dennis of his command. US politicians like Congressman Arthur Malcolm, Edward Arnold, afraid of how the people back home feel about the staggering losses in the skies over Germany and Gen. Dennis' actions being responsible for them it's only a matter of time for him to be dismissed as a USAAF combat-wing commander.

The general took his dismissal with the same courage as his men took the murderous anti-aircraft fire and attacks of German fighters on the missions that he sent them on. Being replaced by his friend and fellow classmate at West Point Let. Gen. Clifton Garnet,Brian Donlevy.

Gen. Garnet also goes against the top brass, the next day, in ordering the bombing of Fendelhorst in central Germany to take out the last place where the deadly Lantze-Wolf are being made. With that, facing the same fate that Gen. Dennis just went through, ended up winning the war for the allies at the possible cost of his military career.

The truth is that like in the movie "Command Dicision" the Germans did develop a jet-fighter late in the war that if it was mass-produced and sent up against the allied air forces a year earlier would have won the Second World War for Germany. The German Masserschmitt Me-262 jet fighter could reach speeds of 540 to 580 MPH that was some 100 to 150 MPH faster then the swiftest USAAF and RAF fighters. In combat it scored as much as 700 combat kills over allied planes during 1944-1945. In their last major air to air engagement over Berlin in March 1945 some dozen Me-262's downed 25 B-17 and 5 fighter escorts to the loss of only two of their own.

Under 300 of the Me-262 jets put into combat and with, for the most part, them being flown by unexperienced pilots and with a shortage of jet fuel to keep the planes airborne for any long period of time. It turned out that the decision of USAAF generals like K.C Dennis to bomb the factories where the Me-262 were being made, despite the heavy allied air losses, that in the end won the war for the Allies in Europe.

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