This top-flight action film features an all-male cast of aircraft carrier pilots during the Korean War and chronicles their heroic flights and tragic deaths. Johnson is the lead pilot around whom the stories revolve. The storie are all told to Calhern, playing the role of writer James A.
Michener, by Martin, Wynn, Lovejoy, and others. There are a lot of landings and takeoffs from the carrier and some thrilling dogfights between American- and Russian-made jets, but the most exciting sequence, which was based on a story by another writer, Burns, is one in which Johnson "talks down"
a blinded Martin so that he can land on the deck of their carrier. Here the whistling wind and the talk between the pilots would have sufficed to heighten the drama, but these are almost drowned out by Rosza's overwhelming, rich score. Marton's direction is swift and economical, and Ruggiero's
editing is adroit and clever as he intercuts the dramatic and action scenes. (Ruggiero went to Washington and procured a great deal of black and white footage, along with some color stock footage shot during WWII and the Korean War, to be used in the film. He found one spectacular 16mm
black-and-white scene of a plane crashing on a carrier and, when he returned to Hollywood, had backdrop specialist Warren Newcomb paint this sequence, no more than 30 feet of film, in color for a $5,000 fee. Then he spliced this scene to some live-action footage.) Pidgeon, as the ship's surgeon,
is a standout, as are Johnson, Martin, and, in particular, Lovejoy, the commander who advocates low-level bombing to achieve his objectives. Freed provides some burly laughs as a much harassed repair officer putting together the broken pieces of the jets aboard the carrier. This was a heavy
box-office winner for MGM at the time of its release, coming just as the Korean War ended.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This top-flight action film features an all-male cast of aircraft carrier pilots during the Korean War and chronicles their heroic flights and tragic deaths. Johnson is the lead pilot around whom the stories revolve. The storie are all told to Calhern, pla… (more)