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Command Decision
     

Command Decision

Director: Sam Wood

Cast: Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson

 

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Although it hasn't held up in reputation as well as Henry King's Twelve O'Clock High at Fox, Sam Wood's Command Decision (1948) -- based on a best-selling book and a hit play -- is an engrossing drama in its own right about the air war over Europe during World War II, and offers a brace of great performances. It was among the finest of Clark Gable's post

Overview

Although it hasn't held up in reputation as well as Henry King's Twelve O'Clock High at Fox, Sam Wood's Command Decision (1948) -- based on a best-selling book and a hit play -- is an engrossing drama in its own right about the air war over Europe during World War II, and offers a brace of great performances. It was among the finest of Clark Gable's post-World War II vehicles, featuring some of the best work ever done by the legendary actor. It made it to laserdisc in a decent transfer back in the late 1980's, and the film has now shown up on DVD with a small but interesting body of support features. The best of those -- and a short whose name this reviewer never knew until now -- is part of MGM's "Passing Parade" series, entitled Souvenirs Of Death, telling of the saga of a war souvenir German pistol as it moves from the hands of a family (where it becomes the basis for a tragedy) to the underworld. It's done entertainingly and effectively, and is the kind of sober presentation of the pitfalls of gun ownership that the NRA despises, and would probably have done its best to ban back when, had it wielded the kind of power that it does now at that time. King-Size Canary is a Tex Avery cartoon that seems to have an unintended message concerning science and the environment, as well as being damn funny. As to the movie, it's been given a crystal-sharp full-screen (1.33-to-1) transfer, with rich contrasts in every shot and no flaws to be seen. Harold Rosson's black-and-white cinematography is given the best showcase it has likely ever had in a home viewing format; the Miklos Rozsa score is also well presented, once one adjusts the volume, which is mastered extremely low; this reviewer had to almost triple the volume setting on his monitor, although the sound is clean and sharp once it comes up to the proper level. The chaptering is also limited to just 12 markers, which is unfortunate -- there are lots of great moments in this picture that should be better delineated. In fact, this movie and Howard Hawks' Air Force (part of the same release cycle) ought to have been given full commentary tracks. But the movie is more than good enough to be a priority purchase for any fan of good drama or great movies, regardless of what hasn't been done with it.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Command Decision is a gripping, if manipulative, war drama that features Clark Gable in one of his best post-War roles. Based upon a hit Broadway play, Decision suffers a bit from feeling stagebound. The creators have opened it up, but not as much as might be desired, although they have resisted the temptation of following the flyers on too many of their missions, which would have been a big mistake: by really showing what happened to the flyers (and to the innocent people killed in their raids), it would have worked against the screenplay's central argument in favor of tough, sometimes brutal decisions during war time. Decision's point is one that can be argued, and if the cards are stacked in favor of the argument here, they are still done so with skill. However, Decision does get a bit too talky, and sometimes the dialogue that was so powerful onstage comes across as a tad stilted. Fortunately, Gable is on hand, in a commanding, full-out performance that ranks among his best. He's ably abetted by an excellent Walter Pidgeon, Brian Donlevy, Van Johnson and even John Hodiak. Sam Wood directs with precision and care, and the result is a good, solid war flick.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/05/2007
UPC:
0012569797048
Original Release:
1948
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:52:00

Special Features

Vintage Passing Parade short "Souvenirs of Death"; Classic cartoon "King-Size Canary"; Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English & Français (feature film only)

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Clark Gable Brig. Gen. K.C. "Casey" Dennis
Walter Pidgeon Maj. Gen. Roland G. Kane
Van Johnson Tech. Sgt. Immanuel T. Evans
Brian Donlevy Brig. Gen. Clifton L. Garnet
Charles Bickford Elmer Brockhurst
John Hodiak Col. Edward R. Martin
Edward Arnold Congressman Arthur Malcolm
Richard Quine Maj. George Rockton
Cameron Mitchell Lt. Ansel Goldberg
Clinton Sundberg Maj. Homer V. Prescott
Ray Collins Maj. Desmond Lansing
Warner Anderson Col. Earnest Haley
John McIntire Maj. Belding Davis
Moroni Olsen Congressman Stone
John Ridgely James Carwood
Michael Steele Capt. Lucius M. Jenks
Edward Earle Congressman Watson
Mack Williams Lt. Col. Virgil Jackson
James Millican Maj. Garrett Davenport
Gregg Barton Sergeant
Bruce Cowling Operations Officer
Sam Flint Congressman
Don Haggerty Command Officer
Henry Hall Congressman
Alvin Hammer Sergeant Cahill
Holmes Herbert Chairman
John James Officer
Marten Lamont Officer of R.A.F
William Leicester Chauffeur
Peter Martin Command Sergeant
Barry Nelson Voice over loudspeaker
William "Bill" Phillips Jeep Driver
Marshall Thompson Cap. George Washington Lee
George Offerman Waiter

Technical Credits
Sam Wood Director
Sidney Franklin Producer
George Froeschel Screenwriter
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
William Wister Haines Screenwriter
Harold Kress Editor
William R. Laidlaw Screenwriter
Urie McCleary Art Director
Gottfried Reinhardt Producer
Harold Hal Rosson Cinematographer
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer

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