This series chronicled the adventures, in the air and on the ground, of the men of the 918th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Eighth Air Force. First commanded by irascible General Frank ... See full summary »
In this story of the early days of daylight bombing raids over Nazi Germany, General Frank Savage must take command of a "hard luck" bomber group. Much of the story deals with his struggle to whip his group into a disciplined fighting unit in spite of heavy losses, and withering attacks by German fighters over their targets. Actual combat footage is used in this tense war drama.Written by
KC Hunt <email@example.com>
Locations for creating the bomber airfield at RAF Archbury were scouted by Henry King, flying his own private aircraft some 16,000 miles in February and March 1949. King visited Eglin AFB (FL) on March 8, 1949, and found an ideal location for principal photography several miles north of the main base at its Auxiliary Field #3, better known as Duke Field, where the mock installation with 15 buildings (including a control tower) were constructed to simulate RAF Archbury. The film's technical advisor, Col. John deRussy, was stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base (AL) at the time, and suggested Ozark Army Air Field near Daleville (AL), ow known as Cairns Army Airfield, adjacent to Fort Rucker). King chose Cairns as the location for filming B-17 takeoffs and landings, including the B-17 belly-landing sequence, since the light-colored runways at Eglin did not match wartime runways in England, which had been black to make them less visible to enemy aircraft. When the crew arrived at Cairns, it was also considered "ideal for shots of Harvey Stovall reminiscing about his World War II service" since the field was somewhat overgrown. See more »
When Savage's plane, the Piccadilly Lily takes off on the ball bearing mission, you can see the lettering on the nose of the plane is thick and bold. Since it is hand painted, the top line, "Piccadilly" is very slightly skewed. A few shots later comes the fake recreation of the cabin, in front of the projection screen, for close ups of Savage and the co-pilot thru the windows. The problem is "Piccadilly Lily" is now completely wrong. Letters are the wrong thickness, wrong shape ... You might say the wrong font. And the bombs under the window are too small and clustered too close together, also. See more »
Of all the movies to come out of Hollywood covering world war two, I place this one, which I first saw in 1950, in the top-draw category. From the very start when the credits start rolling, the opening music seemed to fit perfectly; instead of the era-splitting noise they have hit us with in recent years. The old wartime, "Bless 'em All" and, "Don't sit under the apple tree", heard in the background, as Dean Jagger, now a civilian, slowly takes a nostalgic walk out onto the weed-covered, oil-stained runway to remember gallant times of the 918th Bomb Group, now past.
Gregory Peck as Brigadier General Frank Savage did great credit to this role, and deserved an Oscar. From the moment he enters the base and tears into the guard at the gate for casually waving him through, you know he's going to be a S.O.B. Dean Jagger as Major Stovall, the lawyer in uniform now Ground Executive Officer knows how to handle the paperwork after the first sobering face to face encounter with with Savage. That Jagger won the Oscar as best supporting actor, was well deserved indeed. Gary Merrill as Colonel Keith Davenport, the too popular Group CO, very good. Hugh Marlowe as Lt Colonel Ben Gately, who flew too many missions from behind a desk, placed on the rack by Savage with the other bomb group deadbeats and foul ups, handles his role well. Then their's Millard Mitchell as Major General Pritchard, displaying a commanding presence, and Paul Stewart as Doc Kaiser, also well portrayed.
There are no false heroics in this movie. No blood and guts all over the silver screen. And no routine world war two, hard boiled, go-get-'em dialogue to spoil it. The authors, Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay. wrote an excellent screenplay. They did the film a favour, they deleted General Savage's love interest that appeared in their fine novel. I don't think it would have added anything to the movie at all. Maybe what surprised a lot of moviegoers who had not read the book before seeing the movie, was Savage's mental breakdown; freezing suddenly at the hatch as he attempted to heave himself aboard the B-17. It was so unexpected of him after showing such ice-cold nerves
What rounded out this impressive movie was the insertion of the air combat footage shot over Europe during the actual daylight operations. This documentary footage crowned a very fine achievement. One of Henry King's best; a professional effort indeed. The thread of sincerity in this war movie runs deep.
The reason I found the movie so engrossing was, as a teenager, on the sidelines of the war, I saw more than one B-17 stagger home and belly in on a wing and a prayer. This movie was loaded with integrity from the beginning to the end credits. I'm sure the gallant gentlemen who flew with the Eighth Air Force over enemy-occupied Europe would be of the same opinion. It is a kind of monument to those warriors.
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