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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.
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
- Vintage Passing Parade short "Souvenirs of Death"
- Classic cartoon "King-Size Canary"
- Theatrical trailer
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Terrill C Herring, Lt Col. USAF (Ret)