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Command Decision (1949)

Clark Gable , Walter Pidgeon , Sam Wood  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

Price: $23.69 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Command Decision + Twelve O'Clock High (Special Edition) + Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
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Product Details

  • Actors: Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson, Brian Donlevy, Charles Bickford
  • Directors: Sam Wood
  • Writers: George Froeschel, William R. Laidlaw, William Wister Haines
  • Producers: Gottfried Reinhardt, Sidney Franklin
  • Format: Subtitled, NTSC, Black & White, Full Screen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2007
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NTPG5W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,664 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Command Decision" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Vintage Passing Parade short "Souvenirs of Death"
  • Classic cartoon "King-Size Canary"
  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Command Decision (1949) takes on the kind of questions that Hollywood could never have raised during the war--questions about the cruel responsibilities of command, including the responsibility to spend a great many lives to save thousands more in the future. In 1943, from an American airbase in the English countryside, a campaign of daylight bombardment is being waged against aircraft factories in Germany. For much of the way to their targets and back, the bombers are bereft of fighter escort and at the mercy of the Luftwaffe. The mortality rate is shocking--but perhaps, for reasons that are not widely known, necessary. Clark Gable (himself an air war veteran) plays the commandant who has to call the next day's target, and the film never leaves command HQ; the closest we get to combat is a scene of an untrained crewman trying to land a crippled plane. Command Decision is earnest but outshone by the similarly focused Twelve O'Clock High. The main problem is that it's based on--and essentially remains--a play, static in setting and schematic in its arguments. Still, those arguments should be heard. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

World War II drama that shows the battles - on and off the field - that a general must fight in order to win the war. General Casey of the US Forces in England must fight congressional representatives and his own chain of command to be allowed to complete an important mission. He must get his men's planes out, during a small window of fair weather, in order to prevent the Germans from making more military jet planes. Although the general knows the success of his plan could decide whether the Germans get the upper hand in the war, it could also mean suicide for his men. Adapted from the William Wister Haines stage hit.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Really a War Movie May 28, 2006
Format:VHS Tape
In a larger sense "Command Decision" is not really a war movie but a film about the responsibility of command and leadership. It is one of the few films that effectively explores these topics; and belongs right up there with the original "Flight of the Phoenix" and "The Red Tent". Not having the visual power of those two films (the limited combat/action scenes are almost entirely stock footage), it must focus more narrowly on the human complications arising from the responsibility of command. The contradiction being that while a leader must cease to be human, no one who can do this is fit to be a leader.

Adapted from a stage play, "Command Decision" suffers from a fair amount of "long-windedness". Fortunately the most long-winded character (Major General Kane-played by Walter Pigeon), is well written and has many substantial things to convey. Much like his character in "Forbidden Planet", Pigeon is tasked with inserting historical and philosophical details into the story, and his commanding screen presence makes him ideal for this purpose.

Brigadier General K.C. Dennis (Clark Gable) has the most screen time and most challenging role, as his character is the guy stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is accountable for making the hard decisions that send his men off to die, but has a fragile authority dependent on how much independence his superiors are allowing him at a particular point in time. Gable does fine in this part, probably his best totally "serious" performance. Although the film takes pains to use the German high command to illustrate examples of bad leadership, it is easy to infer that the same mindset applies to the Allies.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true classic July 31, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
One of my favorite films of all time, I would really like to see this released to DVD. The production design is very stage-like. The first time I saw it, I felt I was watching a tightly, but perfectly composed piece. It was, of course, adapted from a stage play and unlike other film adaptations that use the medium of film to break out of the proscenium, the design of this film is contained. It serves to contain the dramatic tension and the pressure the characters are under. The script is beautifully taut. There is a good lesson in this classic, questions on which we should reflect when it comes to putting our people in harm's way. It shows the terrible burden of the few who are at the fulcrum between the policy makers, always far away from the battle, and the men and women on the point.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent war movie, with nary a shot fired on-screen! February 19, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
This movie beats out 12 O'Clock High in my book--It focuses on a conflict of priorities between commanders. Gable is the obvious hero, but it is clear that his boss, looking at the "Big Picture" may have a point as well. If nothing else, entertaining for illustrating the maneuvering over public image that sometimes drove military strategy, even in the years before CNN.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Classic! August 9, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
I would call this one a "guy's film". This is a late 1940's, post war film with Clark Gable, dealing with a WW2 subject rarely discussed: day-light bombing vs night-time bombing. In those days, most nations believed it was not worth the human loss; but Americans thought it was more effective than night-time bombing. In America's first 18 months of WW2 (Jan 1942-June 1943), we lost a large percentage of our bombers to German aircraft and flak. This film accurately portrays how the Commanders, pilots, the American press & people had to wrestle with the bad-news of human losses from those early WW2 days.
This is a "war film" with little or no fighting action, but concentrates from the Commander's view from an English home base. This film wins very high kudos for the exceptionaly well acted roles and dialogue from the master himself (Gable), as a Brigadier General commanding his own bomber Division. But it gets even better: this film boasts exceptional talent from famous lead & charachter actors in supporting roles: Walter Pidgeon as Gable's 2-star General boss; Van Johnson as the smart-aleck "know-it-all" Enlisted man who adores Gable as a man & leader; John Hodiak as a squadron leader/Gable subordinate & Gable's personal friend; Edward Arnold as a visiting Congressman investigating the high manpower losses; Charles Bickford as the probing newsman who's also concerend; and Bryan Donlevy!
I bought it and highly recommend it!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Lost Classic WW2 Movie..!! March 2, 2007
This movie stars Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon as Air Force generals forced to send up bombers during daylight to bomb Germany. As casualties mount their tactics are questioned by Congress and the top brass in Washington. All through it all you realize the stress of combat is not only born by those flying the missions but the officers who send them. One of the best WW2 Air Force movies. Both Gable and Pidgeon give outstanding performances and convey what it really means to be a combat commander. Excellent..!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
it was ver good
Published 16 days ago by burt
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Ladonna M. Combs
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic
A great film drama classic. It follows the novel fairly closely and in some places it even improves on the novel. I so love old movies like these.
Published 5 months ago by GK
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Look at American High Command
This movie seems to center more about command decisions than actual combat, which is a perspective not seen too often in WWII movies. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Winford A. Cruse
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Story Carried By Heavyweight Cast
Command Decision suffers in comparison with Twelve O'Clock High. The story is still good and the comparison with the real 8th Air Force in 1943 is a great one. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mark W. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good viewing for Air Force fans.
Very enjoyable. Would recommend this for anyone who enjoys movies about the Army Air Corps and the USAF. Well done.
Published 8 months ago by superduck
5.0 out of 5 stars Great WWII Movie - Worth watching more than once
This is one of the best WWII movies ever made. There is no fighting in it, no blood, no women and no sex or love scenes, but there is much death in it, off screen. Read more
Published 8 months ago by N. Levi
5.0 out of 5 stars Command Decision
Top of the line and rivals twelve o'clock high in war time army air corp films and this one heck of a cast, Clark Gable never looked better and one great story. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Herman Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars up in the air birdmen!
it is a marvelous film , story, with great actors (no women), great director. here are the flying fortresses of world war ii...the b-17.
Published 10 months ago by M. Roeder
2.0 out of 5 stars Movie is great, DVD is not
I had seen the movie years ago and enjoyed it. However, this DVD would not play in my Blu-Ray player so I viewed it on my PC. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Eric P. Jensen
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