The War Lover (1962)

The War Lover
Directed by Philip Leacock
Written by Howard Koch from a novel by John Hersey
Columbia Pictures Corporation/Columbia British Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Captain Buzz Rickson: Lady, I belong to the most destructive group of men the world has ever known. That’s my work.

I wasn’t quite prepared for a movie where I felt like slapping Steve McQueen throughout.

The story is set prior to D-Day while the US Air Force is conducting bombing runs out of Britain.  Buzz Rickson (McQueen) is an ace pilot.  He is also an arrogant a-hole and miserable human being.  Even his co-pilot Ed Boland (Robert Wagner) is getting sick and tired of him.  Buzz spends his off hours playing humiliating pranks and pursuing women. Ed meets Daphne (Shirley Anne Field), an upper-crust intelligence worker, and spends his off hours being in love with her.  Buzz wants everything he can’t have.

About half of the film is comprised of bombing runs.  The other half follows the love triangle and Buzz’s general ass-hattery.  With Michael Crawford in a small part as a raw recruit.

McQueen plays the kind of guy I love to hate.  He is evidently so damaged that the only pleasure he can get is from destruction.  This serves him well as a bomber pilot – less so as a human being.  McQueen does well as an anti-hero and it’s a solid film but not one I will likely watch again.