21 user 8 critic

Battle Hymn (1957)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 14 February 1957 (USA)
A remorseful bomber pilot-turned-minister rejoins for the Korean War.


Douglas Sirk


Charles Grayson, Vince Evans (as Vincent B. Evans)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Rock Hudson ... Col. Dean E. Hess
Martha Hyer ... Mary Hess
Dan Duryea ... Sgt. Herman
Don DeFore ... Capt. Dan Skidmore
Anna Kashfi ... En Soon Yang
Jock Mahoney ... Maj. Frank Moore
Carl Benton Reid ... Deacon Edwards
Alan Hale Jr. ... Mess Sergeant (as Alan Hale)
James Edwards ... Lt. Maples
Richard Loo ... Gen. Kim (scenes deleted)
Philip Ahn ... Lu Ahn - Old Man
Bartlett Robinson ... Gen. Timberidge
Simon Scott ... Lt. Hollis
Teru Shimada ... Korean Official
Carleton Young ... Maj. Harrison


Dean Hess, who entered the ministry to atone for bombing a German orphanage, decides he's a failure at preaching. Rejoined to train pilots early in the Korean War, he finds Korean orphans raiding the airbase garbage. With a pretty Korean teacher, he sets up an orphanage for them and others. But he finds that to protect his charges, he has to kill. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The true story of Col. Dean Hess, clergyman turned fighter pilot!


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Did You Know?


In 1956 Hess published his autobiography, Battle Hymn. He used the royalties to fund a new orphanage in Seoul. See more »


When Skidmore is wounded and coming back to land, the exterior shots show the canopy open, but in the closeups of Don DeFore (Skidmore) the canopy is closed. See more »


Old Man, Lun-Wa: But, Colonel, you seem troubled.
Col. Dean Hess: There's nothing so terrible as war. I killed today.
Old Man, Lun-Wa: Yes, war is evil. I see what is in your heart. Colonel, may a poor, old carver of ivory babble for a moment? Understand that this is no more than babble and may not have more worth than a handful of sand. In times like these can a man of good conscience ask others, 'Protect me, kill for me, but do not ask me to stain my hands?' What must one do when a choice between two evils is all that is offered? To accept the...
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Featured in The Twilight Zone: Where Is Everybody? (1959) See more »


The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Music by William Steffe and lyrics by Julia Ward Howe (1861)
Based on melody of "John Brown's Body"
Instrumental version heard under main title
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User Reviews

Korean War era movie based on a real American officer.
13 July 2018 | by TxMikeSee all my reviews

I found this older movie in an unusual way, I was looking for Martha Hyer movies. In this one her role is somewhat brief as the wife of the main character but in her early 30s was as beautiful as ever.

Rock Hudson is very good as Colonel Dean E. Hess, who in real life was an American minister and United States Air Force colonel who was involved in the so-called "Kiddy Car Airlift," the documented rescue of 950 orphans and 80 orphanage staff from the path of the Chinese advance during the Korean War on December 20, 1950.

As the movie opens we see Hess as a minister but still feels guilt from an accidental bombing of a church and orphanage in Germany during WW2. He isn't sure he is genuine as a minister and goes back into active duty, training Koreans to fly fighter planes. But his soft spot for orphans gets him involved in providing care for them, an activity that he continued in future years. He died, aged 97 in 2015.

Good movie.

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English | Korean

Release Date:

14 February 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

By Faith I Fly See more »

Filming Locations:

Seoul, South Korea See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)| Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Eastmancolor)| Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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