- Actors: Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, Millard Mitchell, Dean Jagger
- Directors: Henry King
- Writers: Henry King, Beirne Lay Jr., Sy Bartlett
- Producers: Darryl F. Zanuck
- Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Import
- Language: English, French
- Subtitles: English, Spanish
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Fox Video (Canada) Limited
- Release Date: May 15 2001
- Run Time: 132 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- ASIN: B000059HAH
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The wartime memories of surviving World War II bomber squadrons were still crystal clear when this acclaimed drama was released in 1949--one of the first postwar films out of Hollywood to treat the war on emotionally complex terms. Framed by a postwar prologue and epilogue and told as a flashback appreciation of wartime valor and teamwork, the film stars Gregory Peck in one of his finest performances as a callous general who assumes command of a bomber squadron based in England. At first, the new commander has little rapport with the 918th Bomber Group, whose loyalties still belong with their previous commander. As they continue to fly dangerous missions over Germany, however, the group and their new leader develop mutual respect and admiration, until the once-alienated commander feels that his men are part of a family--men whose bravery transcends the rigors of rigid discipline and by-the-book leadership. The film's now-classic climax, in which the general waits patiently for his squad to return to base--painfully aware that they may not return at all--is one of the most subtle yet emotionally intense scenes of any World War II drama. With Peck in the lead and Dean Jagger doing Oscar-winning work in a crucial supporting role, this was one of veteran director Henry King's proudest achievements, and it still packs a strong dramatic punch. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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One of the "most honest and powerful war pictures” (Life) of all time, this “thrilling, dramatic thunderbolt” (The Hollywood Reporter) “soars right up into the bright blue yonder” (Los Angeles Times). Blending “thrilling action” with “personal drama brought to heroic heights” (The New York Times), this winner of two Academy Awards® stars Gregory Peck in “the best performance of his career” (Look), a role which earned him a Best Actor Oscar® Nomination.
At the height of World War II, the 918 Bomber Group suffers devastating losses and Brigadier General Frank Savage [Gregory Peck] is sent to take command. Because of his strong discipline his men resent him, and although Brigadier General Frank Savage remains impersonal under heavy attack and unrelenting firefights, he becomes personally involved in his troops’ well-being – a dangerous position for any leader – especially in the middle of a war!
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1950 Academy Awards®: Win: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Dean Jagger. Win: Best Sound, Recording. Nomination: Best Picture. Nomination: Best Actor in a Leading Role for Gregory Peck. 1950 National Board of Review: Win: Top Ten Films. 1950 New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Win: Best Actor for Gregory Peck.
Cast: Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, Millard Mitchell, Dean Jagger, Robert Arthur, Paul Stewart, John Kellogg, Robert Patten, Lee MacGregor, Sam Edwards, Roger Anderson, Robert Blunt (uncredited), William Bryant (uncredited), Steve Clark (uncredited), Russ Conway (uncredited), Campbell Copelin (uncredited), Leslie Denison (uncredited), Lawrence Dobkin (uncredited), George Edwards (uncredited), Robert Fisher (uncredited), Stanley Fraser (uncredited), Bert Freed (uncredited), Greg Gallagher (uncredited), Don Gaudagno (uncredited), Don Giovanni (uncredited), Don Gordon (uncredited), Don Hicks (uncredited), Ray Hyke (uncredited), Barry Jones (uncredited), Harry Lauter (uncredited), Joyce Mackenzie (uncredited), Mike Mahoney (uncredited), John McKee (uncredited), Peter Ortiz (uncredited), Paul Picerni (uncredited), Nelson Scott (uncredited), William Short (uncredited), John Shulick (uncredited), Bob Tidwell (uncredited), Kenneth Tobey (uncredited), Guy Way (uncredited), Patrick Whyte (uncredited) and John Zilly (uncredited)
Director: Henry King
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay: Beirne Lay Jr. (screenplay/novel), Sy Bartlett (screenplay/novel) and Henry King (uncredited)
Composer: Alfred Newman
Cinematography: Leon Shamroy, A.S.C. (Director and Photography)
Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio, Spanish: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio and French: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Running Time: 132 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’ is a 1949 film about the United States Army's Eighth Air Force crews who flew daylight bombing missions against Germany and occupied France during World War II. The film was adapted by Beirne Lay Jr., Sy Bartlett and Henry King (uncredited) and from the 1948 novel “Twelve O'Clock High” by Beirne Lay Jr. and Sy Bartlett. It was directed by Henry King and starred Gregory Peck as Brigadier General Frank Savage, Gary Merrill as Colonel Keith Davenport, Millard Mitchell as General Patrick Pritchard, Dean Jagger as Major Stovall and later on as Lieutenant Colonel Harvey Stovall, Hugh Marlowe as Lieutenant Colonel Ben Gately, and Robert Arthur as Sergeant McIllhenny.
‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’ is Henry King’s superlative WWII drama was one of the first Hollywood films to probe realistically the psychological pressure and emotional toll of occupying high-command positions. The film examines the physical and emotional anxieties caused by giving the “maximum effort” day after day. The scenario is based on a novel by Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay, Jr., who served in WWII under Air Force Brigadier General Frank Savage, where we see Gregory Peck in top form as usual, and the officer who directed the 1942 U.S. precision daylight bombings on German industry. The writers had witnessed first-hand the effects of chronic fatigue and trauma as fliers out on risky, often deadly missions.
The opening scene is haunting and memorable, setting the tone for the rest of the tale. Major Harvey Stovall [Dean Jagger], a bald, bespectacled man, wanders through post-war England, arriving at a former American air base, a neglected site overgrown with weeds. Looking into the wide sky, he begins to recall as bomber squadrons return from the missions in Germany. When the saga begins, the 918th Bomber Group is under the command of Colonel Keith Davenport [Gary Merrill], a likable leader who behaves like a friend to his men. Indeed, it’s Davenport’s sympathy with his young men, which ultimately causes his breakdown and downfall. Overly concerned with their physical and mental welfare, after a succession of dangerous bombing missions, Colonel Keith Davenport seems unable to meet the demands of his superiors, General Pritchard [Millard Mitchell] and Brigadier General Frank Savage.
Relieved of his duties, Colonel Keith Davenport is replaced by Brigadier General Frank Savage, a ruthless leader whose single-minded goal is to whip his boys back into shape. To that extent, he cuts back on three-day passes, closes the local bar, demands to be saluted, and requires that his soldiers be suitably uniformed and properly behaved at all time. As a result, despair settles in and most of the pilots ask for transfer. Only exception is the young pilot Lt. Bishop [Bob Patten], a sensitive, slightly confused man who tries to rally the men. Moved by the show of unity, Brigadier General Frank Savage is forced to become increasingly friendly, which leads to greater identification with them than his despised predecessor.
Brigadier General Frank Savage’s character is modelled on the actual nervous breakdown of Air Corps Major General Frank A. Armstrong, who’s depicted as a flesh-and-blood man burdened by phobias, fears, and inadequacies. Gregory Peck gives a flawless portrayal of Brigadier General Frank Savage. But the film’s pivotal performance is Dean Jagger’s Major Harvey Stovall. An introspective, older military man, Major Harvey Stovall is a friend and assistant to both Colonel Keith Davenport and Brigadier General Frank Savage and having lived through WWI, he holds together the 918th Bomber Group.
The rather, nostalgic tone of the narration in the prologue is juxtaposed with a flashback of chaos, describing American bombers returning from a mission. Base commander Colonel Keith Davenport gets out of his plane in a state of anxiety to immediately take stock of injuries and losses among his men. “What do we do with his arm” asks one man of another injured crew member. “Our stinking luck,” is Colonel Keith Davenport’s response for having experienced the worst losses of his air group.
Gregory Peck was eager but nervous to play Brigadier General Frank Savage since Gregory Peck had not served in the War due to 4-F classification, meaning that in the United States' Selective Service System, identifying a person as unfit for military service after formal examination by the Entrance Processing Command. But Gregory Peck gives one of his most intelligent and commanding performances, for which he deservedly earned his fourth Oscar® nomination. In an early scene it depicts Brigadier General Frank Savage’s final moment of calm before storming onto the base. Stopping by a river, he lights a cigarette to relax his nerves and prepare for the demanding job before driving on.
Dean Jagger won a Supporting Oscar as Brigadier General Frank Savage’s right hand man, a “re-tread” doing a desk job that brings his civilian skills acquired as a lawyer. The entire male supporting cast is excellent, including Hugh Marlowe and Gary Merrill, Paul Stewart as the base doctor who asks for a working definition of “maximum effort,” and Millard Mitchell as the Major General who detects the same cracks in Brigadier General Frank Savage’s that had earlier defeated his predecessor.
‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’ displays excellent cinematography camerawork by the Oscar-winner Leon Shamroy, including the depiction of a most horrifying aerial attack sequence. Some of the movie was shot at Elgin Field in Florida, and the state’s Ozark Field stands in for the scenes of the overgrown field in the prologue and epilogue. The Motion Picture is humbly dedicated to those Americans, both living and deceased, whose gallant effort made possible daylight precision bombing. They were the only Americans fighting in Europe in the fall of 1942. They stood alone, against the enemy and against doubts from home and abroad. This is their story. The air battle scenes in this Motion Picture were taken from authentic combat footage by members of the United States Air Force and German Luftwaffe archives, some of which have never before seen by viewers.
‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’ was one of the first major films about World War II to forgo a propagandistic approach and instead present the horrors of the conflict and particularly the psychological toll of warfare on its participants, in a realistic light. The film was routinely praised for its accurate portrayal of the experience of heavy bomber pilots during the war. ‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’ remains a powerful war film, its impact heightened by a complete absence of a film musical score, apart from over the credits, and the use of authentic footage of aerial combat scenes are also notable for using actual footage of combat missions shot by Allied and Luftwaffe (German air force) cameras and once again this American war film, released in 1949, that was noted for its ground-breaking depiction of the psychological effects of war on soldiers in general.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has once again brought you a stunning 1080p encoded black-and-white image that really enhances the excellent 1.33:1 aspect ratio, but what a shame it was not filmed in a widescreen ratio. There is also excellent news that there is a considerable improvement in clarity and sharpness that really makes watching this film a total enjoyment. The overall black levels are much richer with this new upgraded Blu-ray presentation than on the inferior DVD release. Also outstanding is the good contrast and the bulk of the film sports excellent differentiation in the grey scale, and Leon Shamroy's cinematography looks decidedly much clearer than it has in previous home video presentations.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has really done this audio presentation proud, especially giving us a brilliant 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio full enhanced sound experience, which is very unusual for a film with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Unfortunately when it comes to the battle sequences it never really fulfils us with the surround sounds when it comes to the explosions and penetrating gunfire, but you do get some hint of the use of the back speakers when the bombers take off. It is really more aimed more towards the dialogue aspect of the film, and now and again you get mostly limited to discrete ambient environmental effects in a subtle way, than the overwhelming sounds of battle scenes that might have been, and these are placed quite artfully throughout the sound field as the film progresses. But I was quite impressed with the Alfred Newman's beautiful composed music score that really enhances the film, especially heard only in the opening and closing sequences of the film that really sounds totally magnificent for a Second World War score. So overall it is a very enjoyable sound experience.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary with Historians Rudy Behlmer, Jon Burlingame and Nick Redman: Here we are welcomed to this very special audio commentary and first to introduce themselves is Nick Redman, next to him is Rudy Belhmer and Jon Burlingame, and all are here to talk about the film ‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH,’ and all three think this is one the greatest World War Two film of all time, as well as the armed service, who say it is a very accurate in portraying the bombing pilots. But I must say we get a truly wonderful audio commentary which is also totally informative and is never boring, as these three gentlemen complement each other magnificently. Rudy Behlmer is of course one of the premiere 20th Century Fox historians around, and Nick Redman who started up his own Twilight Time niche Blu-ray label, which has since starting the label has been releasing some really interesting 20th Century Fox titles. Jon Burlingame and Nick Redman are at the forefront of soundtrack restorations, including a number of notable 20th Century Fox Compact Disc releases. Rudy Behlmer, Jon Burlingame and Nick Redman discuss just about everything there is to discuss about this film, including the production, casting and the context of its involvement with post-World War II in America. As the film starts to get going, they all think it is a very interesting war film that was only made a few years after the end of the Second World War, as it really sets the scenario on what it is like to set up leader of the bombing squadron, and where it goes into great detail on what it is like to become a leader, as it does portray in this film. They talk about the significant of the Toby Jug in the shop window and how the RAF pilots used it to indicate when a raid was due, and eventually the American pilots embraced the same tactic.. They talk in detail about the Alfred Newman film score that you only hear at the start of the film and at the end of the film, especially when the credits appear, which in both cases they really feel it adds to the ambience of the film, where less is more. When you see the real B17 bomber landing on its belly because the landing gear was not working, this was done by a famous American movie stunt pilot named Paul Mantz (2nd August, 1903 – 8 the July, 1965) and was purposely made to do that landing because the B17 bomber was on its last legs and also only had a minimum amount of aviation fuel because of the danger it could of blown up. An interesting fact we hear about this film is that it is shown regularly at Executive Man Management classes, which might sound strange, but it is entirely makes sense, because the plot scenario to do with discipline in the face of adversity. We find out that Darryl F. Zanuck was more concerned about the script detail than anything else, and would say on several occasions that even more important that the script, is the idea, and if the idea is right, and he would also say that he would rather have a bad script on a good idea, than a great script on an idea, and also especially the subject matter you choose. But he would also say that the script is all important, because he felt that you know you can have great direction, great performance and great everything, but if the script isn’t right, it all comes to naught. They give great praise towards the professional Cinematography in this film and especially Leon Shamroy who was very famous for a lot of 20th century Fox films and was truly one of the giants of his craft, who also worked extremely well in colour. Jon Burlingame and Nick Redman asks Rudy Behlmer if the film could have been shot in colour, but Rudy insists it has to be in black-and-white, because of the original combat aerial battle scenes were in black-and-white and the stark contrast would not of looked right, whereas Rudy feels this film has a very definite documentary feel to the film. They talk about the brilliant director Henry King, who Darryl F. Zanuck really admired and who felt would produce a really good war film but they also mention about the actor Gregory peck who had never worked with this director before, but the first time the actor met the director, Gregory Peck sensed an immediate affinity, especially the way Henry King handled things and the way he related to people and people always felt comfortable with the director, even if he did not have to rise to the occasion, and especially Darryl F. Zanuck felt that Henry King and Gregory Peck were very good for each other, but most of all we find out that Henry King was also a flyer and had been flying since the 1920s, even though he had never flown for either the army or navy, but he had his own private aircraft and would be known to scout locations with his private plane and would also take along his personal location manager. Rudy Behlmer mentions about the leading lady that is mentioned in the famous novel of the film, and a quote “a love interest,” and she was an RAF Lieutenant in England, and is not the main plot, but more as a romantic aspect with Savage and at the end of the novel walk off into the sunset and Darryl F. Zanuck found out that it had been added into the final draft of the screenplay, and in a memo from Darryl F. Zanuck said, “Get rid of her, as she is has as much use in this film as one of the Keystone cops,” and Darryl F. Zanuck also said, “As far as the leading lady, Major Harvey Stovall [Dean Jagger], serves as that purpose.” When you finally see the massive amount of bombs reigning down on the ball bearing factories and other targets in Germany, once again they point out there is no film score music to enhance the scenes, o underline the dramatic scenes, they instead wanted to enhance the stark reality of the massive amounts of bombs being dropped and of course probably lots of civilians were killed in the process. But in dropping the bombs it really crippled Germany in the process of stopping their war effort. As we get to the end of the film, the three commentators say thank you viewing the film with them and hope you also enjoyed watching the film with them and their comments. Well I also agree with their comments on this wonderful Second World War film that ranks up there with other brilliant war films that would be up at the top of the all-time Top Ten best war films ever produced.
Special Feature: Memories of ‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’  [480i] [1.33:1] [29:08] This special feature gets some very interesting talking heads reminiscing about the film's impact on them personally, as well as what the film has meant historically within the broad genre of war films. We find out that Darryl F. Zanuck took eight months to finish the screenplay; also no film studios at the time was initially not very keen or interested in making the film or any of the main stars in the film that was also initially not very interested in appearing in the film. But eventually three scripts were drafted, but Darryl F. Zanuck did a hatched job and eventually whittled it down to one script that even the actors were now very keen to appear in the film. We find out how the film title came about by Sy Bartlett’s wife. They all highly praise the director Henry King, who originally directed silent films and in this film made all the actors feel very comfortable and that is how he got the best out of all the actors, who really loved working with him. They talk about the actor Dean Jagger who normally appeared in films with a toupee, but was encouraged to appear naturally half bald. They go into great detail about the film locations, which were RAF Barford St. John Air Base, Oxfordshire, England, UK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA and Ozark Army Airfield, Ozark, Alabama, USA. Because the combined real combat filmed aerial battle scenes that was done by Darryl F. Zanuck favourite film editor Barbara McClean (16th November, 1903 – 28th March, 1996) who had 62 credits to her name and because Barbara McClean did a very professional seamless editing job, the whole thing worked very well. As to the composer of the film score, Darryl F. Zanuck was always keen to use Alfred Newman, as he was renowned for his very dramatic film scores, and with the opening of the film created a strong impression for a film of this calibre, but very strange is the fact that the majority of the film did not have a dramatic score, only at certain points in the film where it was needed. But when the film was finally released is was a massive box office hit, especially showing the public what it was like for these bombers in the Second World War, especially with great actors portraying the real men who helped win the war over Germany, and all who participated in this special feature says that the reason the film was a big success is because it is a very serious take on a very serious subject, and a strong aim towards making sure that the details were correct. It was also a very good serious historical record of exactly what occurred during the years where they were trying to as a nation, to set up a strategic bombing programme over Europe, to overcome the might of the German nation and especially Hitler. So all in all this is a very nice little feature, that packs in a lot of information about the making of the film ‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH.’ Contributors include Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian], Allan T. Duffin [Co-Author of “The 12 O'Clock High Logbook”], Leo Braudy [Film and Cultural Historian], Donald L. Miller [Best-Selling Author of “Masters of the Air”] and Donald Bevan [Member of the 306th Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Brigade and Co-Author of “Stalag 17”]. Directed by Jamie Willett. Produced by Allan Duffin, Jamie Willett and Robin Pelleck. Screenplay by Jamie Willett. Music by Tim Curran.
Special Feature: WWII and the American Home Front  [480i] [1.33:1] [7:32] With this documentary it focuses more on the America’s reaction to being in conflict, with mentions of things like women getting into the workforce in a major way for the first time. We also get an in-depth insight look into the Second World War that had a big impact on the American public and especially when they called it a “Good War,” for some unknown reason, because there was a lot at stake in defeating the enemy. All the spokesperson says that when they were young was when the Second World War started and were young enough to be called up to be drafted into the armed services, which was a way of life. Even if you were an American student and could not be enlisted, they were still there to help with the war effort or anyone else was able to help the war effort by buying War Bonds and Stamps. Also I was also very surprised to hear that America had rationing like we did in the United Kingdom, and it helped America make an effort for the war effort. What was also good to hear that you get to view lots of old newsreel films of the American troops fighting in Europe. As we come to the end of another very short special feature, someone comments by saying something very prophetic in saying, “When these people came home, were they classed as heroes or not, well they were heroes and the greater emotion was not really that they were heroes, but the fact that they were back home. People involved with the war didn’t talk about their medals, and it was very true for a lot of the veterans, and heroes do not go round bragging about it.” Contributors include Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian], Donald L. Miller [Best-Selling Author of “Masters of the Air”], Donald Bevan [Member of the 306th Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Brigade and Co-Author of “Stalag 17”], Leo Braudy [Film and Cultural Historian] and Allan T. Duffin [Co-Author of “The 12 O'Clock High Logbook”]. Directed by Jamie Willett. Screenplay by Jamie Willett.
Special Feature: Inspiring A Character: General Frank A. Armstrong  [480i] [1.33:1] [7:26] This is a template documentary concentrates on the actor Gregory Peck and his character of Brigadier General Frank Savage and he was known for having a reputation for being a straight army and a stickler for discipline and his nickname was “Army.” But despite this, he actually had a very soft side to his character, but was also very intelligent and was very well respected by his fellow men. When you see Gregory Peck arrive at the base and finds security lacking and no discipline, well this actually happened in real life and the General was really shocked by the lack of respect for discipline and as you see in the film things changed dramatically, especially with the air crew bombers, but because of great losses at the start of the war, the General used his iron rod to make his men more disciplined. We find out that Darryl F. Zanuck paid $100,000 for the film rights and at the time it was considerable amount of money, and was a major film in the eyes of Darryl F. Zanuck who took a personal hands on the film and really threw himself into the film project, and to make it a true film and also a glorious film. Though General Frank A. Armstrong himself may not have wanted to be associated with the Brigadier General Frank Savage character in the film, considering his disposition and the dramatic climax of the film. Contributors include Donald L. Miller [Best-Selling Author of “Masters of the Air”], Allan T. Duffin [Co-Author of “The 12 O'Clock High Logbook”], Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian] and Donald Bevan [Member of the 306th Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Brigade and Co-Author of “Stalag 17”]. Directed by Jamie Willett. Screenplay by Jamie Willett.
Special Feature: The Pilots Of The Eighth Air Force  [480i] [1.33:1] [12:25] As the United States entered World War II, everything we thought we knew turned out to be wrong. We thought we could engage in high altitude strategic bombing runs in the daylight, believing, incorrectly as it turned out, that the B-17 could outfly the enemy's fighter jets. This brief but interesting featurette looks at some of the guys who actually did those daytime bombing runs. We are told that the Americans were ready for the Second World War and had been prepared since 1935, especially at the training camps. The Americans felt England was like a giant aircraft carrier, that was a strategic base to be able to bomb Germany, and the air battles started around 1942, but unfortunately 60 bombers in total were lost in the war effort, which equated to 26,000 men. The guys who were the gunners working in freezing conditions and some got frostbite. We find out that the British who lived round the air basis, after the Second World War restored all of the buildings as museum pieces, and the Eighth Air Force is now much better known in England than back in America. There has been a lot of discussions about the blanket bombing and whether it was a great success or not and the jury is still out on the subject. As we get to the end, one of the older bombe brigade says, “This was the fore front of saving Western Civilization, and the defeat of Germany, and I was glad I was there.” Contributors include Donald L. Miller [Best-Selling Author of “Masters of the Air”], Donald Bevan [Member of the 306th Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Brigade and Co-Author of “Stalag 17”], Leo Braudy [Film and Cultural Historian] and Allan T. Duffin [Co-Author of “The 12 O'Clock High Logbook”]. Directed by Jamie Willett. Screenplay by Jamie Willett.
Finally, despite the film being well over 60 years old, ‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’  is apparently still required viewing at any U.S. Service Academies and Training schools. Cooperative relationship with the Air Force was crucial; it meant supply of military planes and airfield location. Contrary to expectation, the military were impressed with the story’s serious approach and with mogul Darryl F. Zanuck’s vision. Their agreement to help was contingent only on few minor changes in the script. Producer Zanuck, head of Twentieth-Century Fox who initiated the project, believed that the film “can serve as tremendous propaganda to stimulate interest in the Air Force.” This production was special to him due to his own service in the War. A critical and commercial success, ‘TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH’ is one of the first and still a film to accurately portray the experiences of rank-and-file members and their leaders in war, under fire. The film is still used by the military in workshops devoted to transmitting skills of leadership, teambuilding, and interpersonal communication between officers and soldiers. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso
If you like drama and people talking all of the time, (and Gregory Peck) this is for you!
Gregory Peck is outstanding in one of his greatest performances. Portraying Air Force General Savage, Peck takes command of the 918th Bomb Group during the early years of World War II, when daylight bombing over Europe was still in question. The previous commander, Col. Keith Davenport was relieved of command for getting too involved with his men and reaching a breaking point. After their most recent mission was a failure, moral is low in the unit. When Savage takes over, he also discovers that discipline isn't strict enough in the unit. Guards, for example, don't check on people entering the base and on-duty officers leave their posts to get drunk.
Savage, at first, enforces discipline on the 918th members, particularly the lazy air executive officer, to the point where the pilots put in requests for transfer. The transfers are delayed, allowing Savage time to change his men's minds. As the 918th successfully completes one mission after another, Gen. Savage soon comes to know and respect his men and feel for him like his own children. The pilots withdraw their transfers and Savage begins to push himself further on the missions to find out what a 'Maximum Effort' is. However, the stress of command and the loss of some pilots soon starts effecting Savage and he breaks down as well.
This movie is excellent in how it studies about the psychological effect of war on men. As seen in this film, the bomber crews could take a lot of flying, but only so much. There is one scene I particularly like in the movie. After a mission in the film's beginning, one of the flyers tells an interrogation officer about the bloody flight, where one man was decapitated. The description is detailed, yet none of the actual damage is shown. It goes to show that words can be just as powerful as images.
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