In this story of the early days of daylight bombing raids over Nazi Germany, General Frank Savage must take command of a "hard luck" bomber group. Much of the story deals with his struggle to whip his group into a disciplined fighting unit in spite of heavy losses, and withering attacks by German fighters over their targets. Actual combat footage is used in this tense war drama.Written by
KC Hunt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On the fuselage of the bombers, under the pilot's window, can be seen a row of stenciled bombs and a row of stenciled swastikas. Each bomb represents a bombing mission flown by that plane, and each swastika represents a confirmed German plane shot down by the plane crew. On Savage's plane, the Piccadilly Lilly, there were six bombs and three swastikas, two of which were presumably McIlhenny's. See more »
During the aerial combat scenes of the movie's last mission, actual WWII combat footage is randomly inserted to add realism. However, three of these clips clearly show a closeup of an American P-47 fighter attacking the B-17's. See more »
Rights, Gately? You've got a right to explain to General Pritchard cowardice, desertion of your post, a yellow streak a mile wide! And maybe he can explain it to your father so that they'll both be proud of you! You can tell him right now.
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One of the Near-Great Films of All-Time; Immensely Moving, Powerful
This stirring war film about the Eight Air Force and their war against the German Luftwaffe was written by Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay, Jr. . It starred Gregory Peck as the Colonel, Frank Savage, head of the 918th Bomber Group assigned to making winged warfare succeed where his nice-guy predecessor, ably played as always by Gary Merrill, had failed. He is aided by brilliant Dean Jagger as Harvey Stovall his exec, his honest Boss Millard Mitchell, and others; but his chief opponent turns out to be the men themselves, not the Nazis...he has to completely turn their thinking around, make them write off survival and think only in terms of getting the job done--so they will have the best chance to maintain group integrity in the air. bomb their targets, and get home safely afterward. How he does this, by stalling their requests for transfer and winning them over to his way--the American way--of making war produces a powerful story. Others in the large, but uneven cast include capable Hugh Marlowe, John Kellogg, Bob Patten, Lawrence Dobkin, Joyce Mackenzie and many others credited and not. This epic was directed by veteran Henry King in what most believe is masterful fashion in B/W. Music was supplied by Alfred Newman and cinematography was done by Leon Shamroy. Art directors Maurice Ransford and Lyle Wheeler deserve every praise for the style they infused into the entire production, mixing actual war footage with their new scenes. Sets such as the large hut where missions are outlined, HQ House, the general's office, the bar, the now-overgrown airfield, the hospital and the airplane interior shots are all memorable achievements. The climax of the film is compromised a bit by changing the original storyline; instead of merely being unable to fly and watching his men get the job done without him, in the filmed version Savage has a near-breakdown from which he rouses only when his pilots begin arriving home. But there is so much power in this film and in its message that self-assertion is better than sloppiness, cowardice, inattention, non-cooperation, defeatism, et al, the film justifiably is still a well-beloved. Frequently, it provides an unforgettable look at how U.S.'s officers and men had to grow up as military operatives in the throes of WWII. To see the men in the film have to watch their Toby mug being turned around, signaling the beginning of another call to mission is moving; the film's opening, when having found the mug again in a shop, tourist Jagger takes it with him, climbs a fence into a field and finds the already-disappearing remains of the hardtracks down which B-17s had so recently roared, carrying the fight to the enemy and men to their deaths or heroisms or both--is frankly a classic sequence; it is also the scene which leads to the film being told as a flashback recounting the events of Savage's vital assignment. Highly recommended.
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