An ex-pilot and current baseballer is recalled into the U.S. Air Force and assumes an increasingly important role in Cold War deterrence.An ex-pilot and current baseballer is recalled into the U.S. Air Force and assumes an increasingly important role in Cold War deterrence.An ex-pilot and current baseballer is recalled into the U.S. Air Force and assumes an increasingly important role in Cold War deterrence.
Stewart was a great believer in the mission of the Air Force and specifically the mission of the Strategic Air Command which maintained a 24 hour combat ready status in those early days of the Cold War. So he did this film to help popularize the new service and to acquaint the public with the mission of the Strategic Air Command.
This is probably the weakest of the eight Stewart/Anthony Mann collaborations. It is technically fine film and airplane enthusiasts will love the flight scenes.
Problem is that the film is dull, not bad, but dull. There just isn't much entertainment value in the story of guys sitting around waiting for the Russians to turn the Cold War hot. The only moment when Strategic Air Command comes alive is when Stewart is forced to crash land and is stranded for a while. John Wayne did a most entertaining film, Island in the Sky, about such an incident. Unfortunately this was only part of the story.
John Wayne also did Jet Pilot which was a ridiculous film about the Air Force and Strategic Air Command doesn't sink to that level.
The only time boredom was ever successfully translated to the cinema was in Mister Roberts. This ain't no Mister Roberts.
June Allyson the same year played almost an identical role as Alan Ladd's wife in The McConnell Story. The McConnell Story was and is too saccharine, but at least the people were real and you did care about them. Stewart is a World War II veteran and now third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals and is recalled to the service because they need top pilots for SAC. He and Allyson are not really people you get to care about here.
Frank Lovejoy does a very good job as General Hawks the head of SAC, right down to his cigars which Curtis LeMay was known for. The other cast members look quite natural in the military setting.
Fans of aviation and of Jimmy Stewart should love this film. But I don't think it had much of a broader appeal.
- Dec 13, 2005