Rock Hudson plays an Air Force Colonel who has just been re-assigned as a cold war B-52 commander who must shape up his men to pass a grueling inspection that the previous commander had failed, and had been fired for. He is also recently married, and as a tough commanding officer doing whatever he has to do to shape his men up, his wife sees a side to him that she hadn't seen before.Written by
Roger Dearnaley <email@example.com>
In several scenes, flight line maintenance personnel and command staff officers are not wearing hearing protectors while standing near jet aircraft with running engines. Air Force policy requires personnel to wear hearing protection while around operating engines to prevent permanent hearing damage caused by the extremely loud, high-pitched sound produced by jet engines. See more »
Life of Air Force SAC colonel convincingly portrayed by Rock Hudson in director Delbert Mann's 1963 film
"Rock Hudson" is almost synonymous with either lighthearted battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy (many with Doris Day) or director Douglas Sirk's 'soap' melodrama (two with Jane Wyman), but a serious role in a story about military life (Air Force SAC squadron) is truly a departure.
I was fortunate to catch the film "A Gathering of Eagles" 1963 by director Delbert Mann on TCM cable in August when they showed several Rock Hudson movies the same day. This is a rare instance with Rock Hudson in an earnest role and he delivered a mighty convincing Col. Jim Caldwell in the Air Force to shape up the SAC (Strategic Air Command) squadron.
"A Gathering of Eagles" 1963, is known to be accurate in depicting the lives of SAC men. Director Delbert Mann himself is not unfamiliar with Air Force life, having been a bomber pilot and flew combat missions in the war years. Script by Robert Pirosh gave us a dramatic story covering military duty life in the Air Corps: family and wives, camaraderie spirits, demanding duties/schedules, firm disciplines and technical aspects included. Hudson was solid in his performance as a tough tireless Colonel assigned to lead the SAC members to ensure they're tightly trained with repeated alert exercises, that the fighter bombers be in absolute tip-top conditions for any unannounced "ORI" (operational readiness inspection).
Cinematography by Russell Harlan with editing by Russell Schoengarth 'showcased' scenes of "MITO" (Minimum Interval Take Off) of B-52's and aircraft aerials quite impressively. Good supporting cast includes Rod Taylor as Col. Hollis Farr, Barry Sullivan as Col. Bill Fowler, Henry Silva as Col. Joe Garcia, Leora Dana as Mrs. Fowler, and Mary Peach as Victoria Caldwell, the British wife to Hudson's colonel. Besides the involving 'storyline' of the day to day challenges of Col. Caldwell's military responsibilities, the family aspect of balancing the role of a loving husband to Victoria is well portrayed. The script poignantly afforded uncertainty situations in the mix for Peach, as 'military' wives may have to go through - adapting herself and trying to understand and to cope with her husband's dedication to the Air Force in his chosen career.
Music score is by the prolific Jerry Goldsmith. "A Gathering of Eagles" is not yet on DVD. Hope to catch it again on cable/TV, or VHS rental.
Other serious roles by Rock Hudson: "Seconds" 1966, the intriguing thriller/science-fiction directed by John Frankenheimer, enhanced by remarkable b/w cinematography by James Wong Howe. "Hornets' Nest" 1970, a wartime WWII story set in Italy with an 'army' of young boys helping Hudson's Captain Turner to complete his mission (I stumbled onto this movie one late TCM cable night). He's also in Douglas Sirk's "The Tarnish Angels" 1958, appearing once again with Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone (they were in Sirk's melodrama "Written on the Wind" 1956).
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