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Twelve O'Clock High [DVD] 
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Colonel Keith Davenport (Gary Merrill) is more of a friend than a commander to his men, a US bomber crew stationed in wartime Britain. After a series of dangerous missions, the pilots are living on their nerves and when Davenport is replaced by the callous General Savage (Gregory Peck), the latter's attempts to whip the crew into shape result in a deluge of requests for transfers. However, young Lieutenent Bishop (Robert Patten) rallies his fellow pilots, and soon they and Savage begin to develop a mutual respect.
The war-time memories of surviving World War II bomber squadrons were still crystal clear when this acclaimed drama was released in 1949--one of the first post-war films out of Hollywood to treat the war on emotionally complex terms. Framed by a post-war prologue and epilogue and told as a flashback appreciation of war-time valour 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 mission 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 rigours 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, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
The background is military - most of the cast wear military uniforms, they fly military planes and they live on a military base - but the action is in their heads as a new man takes over a failing team, turns it around and then faces a breakdown himself.
Dating from when it does, there is little blood and gore shown on screen and as a result the film has a "U" certificate. It is however by no means all pleasant viewing, with a gruesome early scene involving a severed arm where verbal descriptions do far more in bringing out the horrors of war than a special effects bonanza would have.
Poignancy is added by the extensive use of real footage from air combat during the war for the film's own bombing mission scenes. The planes crashing down towards the ground, the people desperately bailing out - they are all real. It is not special effects or stunt men risking their lives; it was real people, in several cases almost certainly heading towards deaths a few seconds after the footage of them in the film cuts away. (The use of real footage also means that if you are a real airplane expert, you can spot a few planes being the wrong model or type in some scenes.)
But as I said, the film is really about leadership, with several scenes in particular being almost perfect for use in a training program. To what extent do people make their own luck? Is a run of bad luck a reason to sack someone? Is it good to stand by someone who has made mistakes or will the rest of the team expect and deserve a change of personnel? How do you give a failing team pride in its job? And so on.Read more ›
at as 'Major Stovall' during the war, the memories of that time comes
flooding back to him.
He remembers when 'Brigadier General' 'Frank Savage' takes command of
U.S. 918 squadron, where he had replaced popular commander 'Col Keith
Davenport' at a time when morale had become low, too many missions,
too many losses.
'B/General Frank Savage' try's to re-build pride and confidence among
the crews despite overwhelming resentment among the ranks because of
his hard-line approach.
a well made war-movie which, during the bomber -raids toward the end
of the film shows several newsreel clips of actual air combat and
Filmed in black and white (1949) with 4.3 screen ratio. the film does
benefit in picture quality as a result of it's format up-date.
well worth a viewing.
USAAF air base Archbury in United Kingdom, autumn 1942. The 918th Bomb Group of USAAF, operating the B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers, one of the first American units to attack targets in Nazi-occupied Europe from British bases, attracts attention of allied high command for its repeated bad performances and especially very high losses. It is now known as "Bad Luck 918" and morale in it is low, even if its commanding officer, Colonel Davenport, is known for his courage under fire and also for the attention given to his men welfare. He is therefore still popular with his men. But the high command decides to sack him and replace him with Brigadier-General Frank Savage - a somehow extraordinary appointment, considering that Bomb Groups were usually not commanded by generals.
Savage (Gregory Peck) is a young and extremely vigorous general - he also quickly proves to be absolutely ruthless in restoring discipline and squeezing from his men everything they can give! He quickly becomes object of intense hatred and things will ultimately go very, very far between him and the men under his command... That takes care of about first eight minutes of the film, and I will say no more here.
The great quality of this particularly brilliant film, which got two Oscars in 1949, is due in large part to the men who wrote the novel "Twelve O'Clock High", published in 1948 and immediately adapted to the screen.
Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant Sy Bartlett (he was born Sacha Baraniev in Ukraine in 1901), was first a journalist before becoming a screenplay writer in the 30s.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gritty WW2 story, well acted and well shot, with some great leadership lessons.Published 4 months ago by Lippo
The strategic bombing campaign over Europe between 1940 and 1945 has often been given short shrift, but remains one of the most important campaigns of WWII. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Riff
My husband again loved the gift as he is also a big fan of war filmsPublished 5 months ago by sarah louise brown
Superb! Gregory Peck is initially flying a desk, until he's sent to galvanise a moribund US airborne bomber outfit, replacing the put-upon commander, who also happens to be a pal... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Sebastian Palmer
Unbeatable classic, a must for war/flying movie lovers. But this is a copy of the original celluloid movie, not restored like other classics. Pity, it deserves it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ph H. Van Goethem