Thad Walker (Tab Hunter) is a young man from a good Boston family, but he's spoiled, rebellious, and always at odds with his strict father. When Thad gets into trouble with the law one time too many, his father strikes him. Thad leaves his home and joins up with other American volunteers heading for the front lines of World War I. Since the U.S. is not at war yet, Thad joins the French Legion. The American volunteers in the French Legion are trained as fighter pilots for the Lafayette Escadrille. During his training, Thad proves he's a skilled flyer, but his temperament prevents him from taking orders and being obedient. When he strikes a French drill officer, Thad faces the prospect of a court-martial and a minimum sentence of ten years in prison. Discouraged, he deserts and runs away to Paris, where he first fell in love with a pretty French girl named Renée Beaulieu (Etchika Choureau). They live together in her small hotel room and eventually get unofficially married. But the ...
Thad Walker loved like he flew - dangerously and often!
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Did You Know?
Writer, Producer, and Director William A. Wellman
based this movie on his experiences as a combat pilot during World War I. While stationed in France, Wellman joined the French Foreign Legion's Lafayette Flying Corps, N.87, les Chats Noir (Black Cat Group). The plane he flew was a Nieuport 24 fighter, which he named "Celia" after his mother. He was credited with three recorded "kills" of enemy aircraft, plus five probable kills. Wellman was shot down in combat and survived the crash, but walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He received the Croix du Guerre for his service. After the war, he returned home and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps for two years, where he taught combat tactics to new pilots at Rockwell Field in San Diego, California. The main character, Thad Walker (Tab Hunter
), was based on a fellow pilot who flew with Wellman in the Lafayette Escadrille. See more
Aviators in World War I generally didn't wear the high-collar tunics like the one worn by Thad. This is because they needed to be able to turn their heads while flying. Rather, they wore a uniform coat that required a shirt and tie. See more
A half-forgotten corner of France in a wholly-forgotten war. In memory of the heroes of the Lafayette Escadrille, who died in defense of life and of liberty. This monument, this patch of foreign sky, belongs to a handful of Americans who flew for France and died for France in the First World War. They came with an air of adventure or a sense of impatience in the days before America entered the war. The wore French uniforms, they fought in French planes, and they fell in love with ...
And Introducing Bill Wellman, Jr. Jody McCrea Dennis Devine See more
There are two versions of the film: in one the main characters marry each other happily, in the other Tab Hunter's character dies and Etchika Choureau's commits suicide. See more
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