O'Clock High (1949)
Gregory Peck, Dean Jagger, High Marlowe, Gary Merrill.
time: 132 mins
classic story of the Second World War battle in the air works
as an action picture, a psychological drama and also a powerful
isn't just another Hollywood flick full of swaggering heroics.
Instead, we see veterans cracking under pressure and young
men barely out of their teens risking - and losing their lives.
Scripted by Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay, Jr., who actually
served during the campaign, the movie has a powerful sense
the astonishing aerial battle sequences are all real, taken
from combat footage filmed by American and German crews.
in England in 1942-43, the tells the story of one Flying Fortress
bomber group, part of the high altitude daylight precision
bombing effort against Germany and occupied Europe devised
by the Americans. With But with the air thick with German
fighter planes there were fearsome casualties.
Peck plays Brig. Gen Frank Savage, a combat veteran who is
recalled from his new post as a mission planner at headquarters
to take command of a hard luck squadron. Savage
sees immediately that his predecessor identified too much
with his men, excusing poor performance, worrying about their
well-being and putting heavy losses down to "bad luck".
icy first briefing for the crews is an awesome piece of acting.
Facing men upset their popular commander has been replaced,
Savage tells it like it is, from "I don't believe in
hard luck" to a warning that "we're in a shooting
war and some of us have got to die".
a towering, Oscar-nominated performance from Peck. But just
good is Dean Jaggers calm understated turn as the air
base adjutant who recalls the squadrons exploits in
flashback as he revisits the deserted air base four years
after the war ends. Jagger landed the Best Supporting
Actor Oscar and the film also won for "Best Sound".
supporting cast is teriffic and this 2007 two-disc special
edition features a fine picture transfer plus four documentaries
on the making of the movie and other extras.