The dropping of atom bombs on Japan to end WW II was first dealt with by MGM in THE BEGINNING OR THE END, but the studio had long wanted to deal with the intimate details of that earthshaking event, the story of the man who piloted the Enola Gay to her destiny over Hiroshima, Paul Tibbets. In
what is a somewhat overlong production, Robert Taylor forcefully enacts the role as the steely nerved Air Force officer in charge of the operation. The film jockeys between the careful preparations to drop the delicate bomb (providing details that sometimes become tedious) and a fairly mushy love
affair between Taylor and Parker, his wife. Since he cannot reveal a tidbit of information to her and his manner becomes curt, the relationship is strained to the breaking point, so Parker leaves him. Their scenes together are overacted, implausible, and very sticky, but then the pair, in their
first film together (two more were to follow, VALLEY OF THE KINGS and MANY RIVERS TO CROSS), were torching offscreen in a love affair and their personal involvement inescapably oozed onto the celluloid. The romance lasted until Taylor married a second time in 1954 to Ursula Thiess. Whitmore gives
a jocular performance as Tibbets' aide. The most chilling aspect of the film is the final bomb run over Japan. Once the deed has been done, Taylor and Parker, the latter finally seeing her husband as a hero and not an ogre, reunite in an even stronger marriage. Taylor was so enthusiastic about the
film that he volunteered to become the first MGM star to go on TV to promote it. Up to that time the studio had utterly boycotted TV, refusing to allow its personnel before the television cameras. The original promotion of the picture featured such cornball slogans as "The Love Story Behind the
Billion Dollar Secret," a reflection of parts of the script written by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, MGM scribes whose backgrounds were rooted in musical romances. The film's real value stems from the third scenarist, Beirne Lay, Jr., author of TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, and an Air Force veteran, who
was largely responsible for the military segments. Nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture and Best Motion Picture Story.
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- Review: The dropping of atom bombs on Japan to end WW II was first dealt with by MGM in THE BEGINNING OR THE END, but the studio had long wanted to deal with the intimate details of that earthshaking event, the story of the man who piloted the Enola Gay to her des… (more)