Elmer Brockhurst: Worth it to whom?
This is a surprisingly modern look at what happens when military strategy and politics collide.
Brig. Gen. Casey Dennis (Clark Gable) is in command of a bomber squadron flying out of England. While his commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Kane (Walter Pidgeon) has been absent, Dennis has taken advantage of some good weather to send his planes on unprotected bombing runs far into Germany. Dennis is fighting against time to destroy factories building a German plane that will give the Axis air superiority. The raids are successful but approximately a quarter of the planes are shot down over Germany on each run.
Kane’s main concern is that Congress appropriate funds for the program he commands. Some Congressmen are on a visit and he struggles to package the operation as palatably as possible. One of the Congressmen (Edward Arnold) suggests that the human cost of these unprotected long range missions is too high. Kane is also plagued by the presence of a military journalist (Charles Bickford) who is snooping around and asking inconvenient questions.
Dennis doesn’t like the losses any more than anyone else but is determined to continue on while the weather is good believing that this will save more lives down the line and end the war sooner. He has a hard time controlling his temper around the Congressmen. Eventually, Kane is feels forced to relieve him of command. His replacement (Brian Donlevy) is left to face the exact same dilemma. With Van Johnson as a wise-cracking staff sergeant and John Hodiak as a pilot.
This started off rather slow and talky but I was drawn in and thoroughly enjoying it by the end. Clark Gable is excellent in a dead serious dramatic role and the rest of the all-male cast is very good. I spent time around Congressional delegations in a former life and can attest that the dynamic rang very true.