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The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)

A dramatization of the American general and his court martial for publically complaining about High Command's dismissal and neglect of the aerial fighting forces.

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writers:

Milton Sperling (story and screenplay), Emmet Lavery (story and screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Cooper ... Col. Billy Mitchell
Charles Bickford ... Gen. Jimmy Guthrie
Ralph Bellamy ... Congressman Frank R. Reid
Rod Steiger ... Maj. Allan Guillion
Elizabeth Montgomery ... Margaret Lansdowne
Fred Clark ... Col. Moreland
James Daly ... Lt. Col. Herbert White
Jack Lord ... Lt. Cmdr. Zachary 'Zack' Lansdowne
Peter Graves ... Capt. Bob Elliott
Darren McGavin ... Capt. Russ Peters
Robert F. Simon ... Adm. Gage (as Robert Simon)
Charles Dingle ... Sen. Fullerton
Dayton Lummis Dayton Lummis ... Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Tom McKee Tom McKee ... Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker
Stephen Roberts Stephen Roberts ... Maj. Carl Spaatz (as Steve Roberts)
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Storyline

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 <khunt@eng.morgan.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He defied the army and navy . . . and they gave him a Court Martial!

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 December 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Condamné au silence See more »

Filming Locations:

El Monte, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$3,000,000, 31 December 1955
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

United States Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (optical prints)| 4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording) (magnetic prints)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

The award ribbons on Billy Mitchell's uniform coat are arranged in rows of three. However, he actually wore them in rows of four. See more »

Quotes

Admiral William S. Sims: The Navy hasn't got any policy on flying, they are ignoring the aeroplane in hopes that it will just go away.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in M*A*S*H: 5 O'Clock Charlie (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

The U.S. Air Force
(uncredited)
Music by Robert Crawford
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A decent film - with a mesmerising 17-minute cameo
16 April 2007 | by tohuSee all my reviews

This is a decent film, for the most part a very watchable telling of a good true story which is worth knowing about. Gary Cooper is solid in the title role (albeit he is apparently nothing like the real-life Mitchell) and the drama moves along at a reasonable pace.

But for 17 minutes towards the end it rises above that and becomes mesmerising. What makes the difference? Two words: Rod Steiger. The cross-examination scene, where he goads and scorns Cooper mercilessly, is one of those very rare moments in cinema when a performance holds the screen and burns itself into your memory. No matter how many times I have seen this film, I always spend the first hour or so waiting to relish this particular scene. And I am never disappointed.

So watch the film for two reasons: it is good in its own right. A well-played, thoughtful and dignified film about a good man who was ahead of his time. But whatever you do, make sure you don't miss the last half-hour!


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