12 o’clock High
A Movie Review
I. Brief Background of the Movie
The movie is a black and white motion picture, produced by 20th Century Fox after World War II, which tells the story of friendship and leadership. It depicts the story of two good friends with different personalities and leadership styles who had their own chances of leading the same unit, the 918th Bomb Group of the 8th US Air Force which was stationed at Archbury, England. The movie as it progress, reveals one man’s struggle to change the attitude of the organization that was once known as the “Hard Luck Group” (nobody’s fault).
The story is a personal and vivid remembrance of MAJOR HARVEY STOVALL- the Adjutant of the 918th, who was on a short vacation in England after the war. He chanced upon a “Zorro/Robinhood-replica Jar” in one of the antique stores, which brought back clear memories of his days in Archbury. He went back to the old military camp which was already converted into a farm, and there he started to reminisce his days with the most memorable colleagues in his military career.
The major characters in the movie are:
BGEN FRANK SAVAGE, the former Chief of Air Staff for Operations (A-3) of the Bomber Command who later became the new Group Commander of the 918th Bomb Group. He is mission-oriented, demands respect from his men, firm in his decisions, and exudes strictness. COL KEITH DAVENPORT, the former Group Commander of the 918th who is well-loved by his people; he favors men over mission, believes in “hard luck” and a very good friend of BGen Savage. MGEN PATRICK PRITCHARD, the Commanding General of the 8th Bomber Command and the immediate boss of Col Davenport and Col Savage. He demands results and is firm with his decisions. MAJOR HARVEY STOVALL, the Group Adjutant, who is also a lawyer and a former combatant; he is already confined in desk jobs because of his age. He became the go-to-guy of BGen Savage for information about his men and suggestions on certain decisions during his first days in the Group. LTCOL BEN GATELEY, the 918th Air Executive, is a son and a grandson of well-known generals. He made a bad impression to his new Commander, BGen Savage, when he went out of the Camp and got drunk. He was immediately relieved of his position as Air Exec and demoted as Air Commander of the “Leper Colony” – group of dead beats according to Savage. MAJ JOE COBB, one of the Squadron Commanders of the Group who has good records, and was designated to replace LtCol Gateley. CPT “DOC” KAISSER, the flight surgeon of the 918th, who is very straightforward with his opinions.
LT JESSE BISHOP, one of the youngest pilot and was nominated for Medal of Honor by the former Group Commander, Col Davenport. He levels up with BGen Savage, that he became the spokesperson of all pilots in the Group, to relay all their sentiments to the new Commander. Sgt Mcllhenney, the duty sergeant of the Adjutant’s office who was caught by BGen Savage not wearing proper uniform. Instantaneously, Sgt Mcllhenney was demoted to Private. He was later assigned as driver of the General, and regained his rank because drivers of Generals have rank requirement of Sgt.
The movie revolves around the above characters- how they survive as soldiers, as pilots, as leaders and as members of the 918th Bomb Group and 8th Air Force Bomb Command. There are scenes in the movie that depicts actual air battle, which for me is satisfactory enough considering the time/year it was produced. The script was very well written and well-researched because the characters used dialogue in a real military set-up. The movie also presented part of the US Air Force’s rich history.
Although there were flaws in the movie, more on its technical aspects like bad angles during indoor conversations, insufficient sound effects, and poor lighting; but the message of the movie...