Movie Review on 12 O'Clock High

Topics: Leadership Pages: 4 (1383 words) Published: January 21, 2012
At the outset of the film, General Savage is charged by his superior with a daunting task: improve the already dismal morale of the 918th, then fly those crews on daylight precision raids until they can’t fly any more. One of the central themes of the film is the question as to how much stress a man can really take, and how General Savage aims to push his men to that limit and beyond, if necessary. When Savage takes over the 918th, the morale is low, but the men are fiercely loyal to Col. Davenport, from whom General Savage takes command. Because he has been flying missions with the men and utilizing a participative leadership style, Davenport sees firsthand how much is being asked of them, and sympathizes with their plight. He has seen the worst of battle, and he believes far too much is being asked of his crews by his command. Because he feels this way, discipline in the ranks begins to break down, and his crews purposefully fake illness so they won’t have to fight. The “over- identification” or sympathy Davenport feels for his men makes him an ineffective leader, because he is not able to push them to complete their objectives as his command requires. His crews are loyal to him, but it is obvious they do not respect him as a leader. Recognizing a need for a structural change, General Savage enters, and he’s given a clear set of objectives and has the iron will to see them done. The change in leadership (from participative leadership to executive leadership) has led to opposition as it appears as though that iron will drives the men to seek transfers as Savage seeks to enforce discipline and accountability to form a cohesive fighting unit. It is interesting to note that at first, he appears to want to unite them against him, and he succeeds. They do all request transfers, and select a spokesman to carry out conversations between them and General Savage while the transfers are being carried out. But Savage has a larger plan; one that involves the crews seeing...
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