18 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
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win. See more awards »


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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 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!


Approved | See all certifications »





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 »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Phil Harvey. 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 ...
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Referenced in Broadway by Light (1958) See more »


Little Brown Jug
American drinking song
Composed by Joseph Winner (1869)
Sung by Jock Mahoney and soldiers during Thanksgiving celebration.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Decent Douglas Sirk drama with Rock Hudson as a preacher who trains fighter pilots during Korean War
15 July 2018 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This is the apparently true story of Colonel Dean Hess as the upright clergyman turned fighter pilot . After accidentally bombing , during WWII , an orphange as a fighter pilot a Col. , Rock Hudson, becomes a God minister . Problem is , he is plagued with guilt and wishes a real redemption . Later on , he leaves his pregnant wife , Martha Hyer, and returns to the Air Force in 1950 to train Korean pilots in Seoul ; there he meets a motley bunch , such as the army sergeant companion , Dan Duryea in a rare likeable character , the officers Don DeFore , Jock Mahoney , the sympathetic cook Alan Hale Jr and the African-American James Edwards , among others . Then , at the quarters show up a group of 37 orphaned children wanting shelter from Commie attacks and bombings .Along the way Hess winds up building a home for the local orphans .

This is a true story in which the real Hess served as technical advisor . Pure sentimental slop , it is a stirring and sometimes moving tale , accompanying some spectacular aerial scenes and impressive dog-fighting . Main cast is pretty well . As Rock Hudson gives an acceptable acting as a chaplain whose wartime bravery earns him a string of honours ; however, he suffers strong remorses . This is Hudson's third modern-day adventure in the East , the others were : Spiral road and Thunder of God . Rock was Sirk's fetish including important titles as Taza , Magnificent obsession , Written in the wind , among others . His wife is well played by the attractive Martha Hyer and Anna Kashfi, Marlon Brando's spouse , plays the oriental girl who helps and falls for him . Magnificent support cast with plenty of notorious secondaries such as the usually veteran bad man Dan Duryea , Don DeFore , Jock Mahoney , Richard Loo , Carl Benton Reid , Alan Hale Jr , and Philip Ahn as the old man philosopher .

It contains a colorful cinematography in Technicolor by Russell Metty, though a perfect remastering being extremely necessary . Sensitive musical score including oriental sounds and choral music by Frank Skinner. The motion picture was well directed by Douglas Sirk . He was a fundamental filmmaker who gave prestigious movies , usually collaborating with similar technicians as cameraman Russell Metty , Production Designer Alexander Golitzen , Producer Ross Hunter and writer George Zuckerman . Sirk directed a lot of classic melodramas such as : Never say goobye , Interlude , Summerstorm , The first legion , The lady pays off , Tarnished Angels , A time to love a time to die , Magnificent obsession , All that heaven allows , Written in the Wind . But he also directed other genres as WWII : Mystery submarine , Hitler's madmen ; Thrillers and Film Noir : Shockproof , Thunder on the hill , A scandal in Paris , Lured ; Historical : Attila with Jack Palance ; Adventures : Thunderbolt and Lightfoot with Hudson and Barbara Rush ; and even a Western : Taza , again with Rock Hudson.

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