Twelve O'Clock HighDirector: Henry King
Twelve O'Clock High asks how much can a soldier give? When the U.S. 8th Army Air Force 918th Bombardment Group is ordered on their fourth harrowing mission in four hard days, Brigadier General Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) demands "maximum effort." The pilots and crews are forced to fly lower, to fly farther, and to test themselves -- overstressed and fatigued -- right up until death's door. When their dedicated colonel speaks out in their defense, Savage mercilessly takes over command -- an officer should not sympathize with his men. The general will compel the 918th to stop pitying itself and to hone its morale in the face of danger. Yet, as the men grow colder due to Savage's orders and the missions bring them closer to their crucial German targets, the general learns the practical impossibility of raising the confidence of young men while also sending them to their deaths. He begins to understand that it is the burden of command that makes even the toughest leader sympathetic. Eventually caring for his men above all else, it is Savage who is forced to carry the hardships of "maximum effort" -- asking himself, How much can a man take? ~ Aubry Anne D'Arminio, All Movie Guide
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- 20th Century Fox
- [Full Frame]
- [DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
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Cast & Crew
|Gregory Peck||Gen. Frank Savage|
|Hugh Marlowe||Lt. Col. Ben Gately|
|Gary Merrill||Col. Keith Davenport|
|Millard Mitchell||General Pritchard|
|Dean Jagger||Major Harvey Stovall|
|Robert Arthur||Sergeant McIllhenny|
|Paul Stewart||Major "Doc" Kaiser|
|John Kellogg||Major Cobb|
|Lee MacGregor||Lieutenant Zimmerman|
|Roger Anderson||Interrogation Officer|
|John Zilly||Sergeant Ernie|
|William Short||Lieutenant Pettinghill|
|Richard Anderson||Lieutenant McKessen|
|Lawrence Dobkin||Captain Twombley|
|Campbell Copelin||Mr. Britton|
|Peter Ortiz||Weather Observer|
|Steve Clark||Clerk in Antique Shop|
|Robert Patten||Lieutenant Bishop|
|Russ Conway||Operations Officer|
|Don Hicks||Lieutenant Wilson|
|John R. McKee||Operations Officer|
|W.D. Flick||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Roger Heman||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Thomas K. Little||Set Decoration/Design|
|Alfred Newman||Score Composer|
|Maurice Ransford||Art Director|
|Lyle Wheeler||Art Director|
|Darryl F. Zanuck||Producer|
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I found this movie to be very stirring as a history buff. As a retired military member I enjoyed very much the presentation of what life must have been like bombing targets over Europe, without knowing if the mission you were on, would be your last. I especially enjoyed the discussions between the Commander and his staff in determining courses of action as this portrayed a good leadership example. Overall, if your looking for a true-to-life perspective of what the aircrew and the ground crew went through during World War II, this is the movie to watch.
A great movie - however, with all due respect to Aubry Anne D'Arminio and her review I would like to point out that Frank Savage did not 'mercilessly take over command of the 918th'. He was commanded by the Group Commander (a Major General) to take over the 918th. His hard nosed approach worked and the 918th became a highly effective fighting force. This movie continues to be used in today's corporate training culture as a model of leadership under stress and duress. A wonderfully accurate movie of this time period, it uses actual combat footage during the air scenes. Dean Jagger deserved his Oscar and Gregory Peck should have earned one as well!
We studied this film as part of the U.S. Air Force Academy's Military Training curriculum. We examined this film as a classic study of leadership under stress at the Air Command & Staff College. And this film has been studied at the Air War College. Corporate leadership forums draw from its lessons. It is leadership from the gut, under severe stress, no more, no less. Awesome. There has never been another like it. Don't miss it.
Excellent film, but my copy came scratched and froze at around 31 minutes. I had waited a month to watch it, and defective merchandise can only be returned within 14 days. If you order this, watch it right away.
Clearly the finest war movie ever made. Shows war for what it always is: the engagement of men (and women) in the ultimate test of being human. Gregory Peck was never better, nor will anyone else be.
This is an amazing look at the air war in Europe wuring World War II. The Eighth air Force suffered so many losses at the beginning of the war. This movie pulled no punches when it came to detailing this point. It showed the protaganist, General Savage (Gregory Peck) for what he was, a human being with feelings and a breaking point. It showed how there are no winners in war, just losers and dead men and women. I would recommend this film to all, young and old, especially to those who wish to glorify war.
The ensemble cast in this 1949 drama, headed by Peck and Jagger, is superb. Gary Merrill as the former commander, Hugh Marlowe as the scorned coward, Millard Mitchell as the Commanding General at HQ and Paul Stewart as the group medical officer are all brilliant. No film made either during or after the war better depicted the pressure of command or the mindset of the young men sent to sure death during low-level, daylight precision bombing raids into the heart of Europe during WWII. The only other movie that comes close is Command Decision (1948), starring Clark Gable, John Hodiak, Van Johnson and Brian Donlevy. For you TV trivia buffs, you may recall the "Twelve O'Clock High" TV series on ABC (1964-1967) starring Robert Lansing and Paul Burke (of "Naked City" fame). It is no coincidence that both "Twelve O'Clock High" and "Command Decision" were made after the war. The realistic depiction of bomber group life (and death) in these films would not have sat well with either the wartime government or the average American.
One of my all-time favorite war movies. One especially remarkable feature of it is that it contains so little "action" in the usual sense. In the last twenty minutes or so the viewer "goes along" on a bombing mission over Germany, most of it put together with great skill from actual combat footage. The rest of the drama is played out on the ground, in offices and living quarters. Younger viewers may find the film dated and a little sanitized (it's in black-and-white, and the language is devoid of profanity), but it demonstrates how good acting, writing, and direction could transcend the limitation of the medium. The first scene, in which a B-17 makes an emergency landing with wounded crew members on board, is a classic. No blood or gore whatever is visible, but the viewer can't miss the message about what those young men went through. To my notion this is the best study of the military command experience on film. A good counterbalance, examining the military experience from the standpoint of the enlisted man, is "The Sand Pebbles," with Steve McQueen.
Twelve O'Clock High is one of the best WWII movies ever. It clearly shows the toll that war takes on men and machines. Gregory Peck's performance is one of his best.