Thad Walker 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 One. Since the U.S.A. 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 10 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. They live together in her small hotel room and eventually get unofficially married. But French police is looking for deserters ...
The young rebel who didn't fit and didn't try...a kid who couldn't wait for his war!
Did You Know?
Final film of director William A. Wellman
. NOTE: He had previously directed numerous aviation dramas--including Wings
(1927), the 1927 winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture--saw Lafayette Escadrille
(1958) as a tribute to his fellow World War I combat pilots. The studio, however, gave Wellman a very low budget, and he felt he could not make the film he wanted to make. Originally, the film had a tragic ending for Thad Walker and his Parisian bride, but studio head Jack L. Warner demanded a happy ending. When Wellman refused, the studio took the film away and shot a new ending with Tab Hunter
and Etchika Choureau
. Afterwards, Wellman decided to retire from directing. His son, William Wellman Jr.
, later said that his father "just got tired of fighting with the studios." 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
Featured in Tab Hunter Confidential