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Command Decision (1948)

Passed | | Action, Drama, War | February 1949 (USA)
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Army generals struggle with the decision to prioritize bombing the German factories producing new jet fighters over the extremely high casualties the mission will cost.

Director:

Sam Wood

Writers:

William R. Laidlaw (screenplay), George Froeschel (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Clark Gable ... Brigadier General K.C. 'Casey' Dennis
Walter Pidgeon ... Major General Roland Goodlow Kane
Van Johnson ... Technical Sergeant Immanuel T. Evans
Brian Donlevy ... Brigadier General Clifton I. Garnet
Charles Bickford ... Elmer Brockhurst
John Hodiak ... Colonel Edward Rayton Martin
Edward Arnold ... Congressman Arthur Malcolm
Marshall Thompson ... Captain George Washington Bellpepper Lee
Richard Quine ... Major George Rockton
Cameron Mitchell ... Lieutenant Ansel Goldberg
Clinton Sundberg ... Major Homer V. Prescott
Ray Collins ... Major Desmond Lansing
Warner Anderson ... Colonel Earnest Haley
John McIntire ... Major Belding Davis
Moroni Olsen ... Congressman Stone
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Storyline

General Dennis of the US Force in England in World War II finds that he must order his planes deeper and deeper into Germany to prevent the production of military jet planes that will turn the tide of battle to the Germans. He must fight congressmen, and his own chain of command to win the political battle before he can send his planes out. His problem is complicated by a very narrow window of good weather necessary to allow his effort to be successful. Adapted from a stage play, it attempts to look at the challenges of command in the political arena. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Heroes, cowards, fighters, braggarts, liars...and what goes on in their hearts! See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

February 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sublime decisión See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,467,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,901,000, 31 December 1948

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,685,000, 31 December 1948
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Taylor was originally going to star alongside Clark Gable, according to an April 1947 edition of "The Los Angeles Times". See more »

Goofs

When Van Johnson is in Gable's office alone in the very beginning of the film, someone comes in and gives him a model plane and he places it on a shelf behind him. However, when Gable comes in soon afterwards the shelf is empty. See more »

Quotes

[Standing next to a B-17 starting up]
Col. Edward Rayton Martin: Well... see you later.
[Col. Martin runs to get aboard the bomber]
Col. Edward Rayton Martin: Keep your temper with the big wheels!
Brig. Gen. K.C. 'Casey' Dennis: What?
Col. Edward Rayton Martin: I said; keep your temper with the big wheels! I don't want to get back and find you with a Legion of Merit and a ticket home!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not Really a War Movie
28 May 2006 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

In a larger sense "Command Decision" is not really a war movie but a film about the responsibility of command and leadership. It is one of the few films that effectively explores these topics; and belongs right up there with the original "Flight of the Phoenix" and "The Red Tent". Not having the visual power of those two films (the limited combat/action scenes are almost entirely stock footage), it must focus more narrowly on the human complications arising from the responsibility of command. The contradiction being that while a leader must cease to be human, no one who can do this is fit to be a leader.

Adapted from a stage play, "Command Decision" suffers from a fair amount of "long-windedness". Fortunately the most long-winded character (Major General Kane-played by Walter Pigeon), is well written and has many substantial things to convey. Much like his character in "Forbidden Planet", Pigeon is tasked with inserting historical and philosophical details into the story, and his commanding screen presence makes him ideal for this purpose.

Brigadier General K.C. Dennis (Clark Gable) has the most screen time and most challenging role, as his character is the guy stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is accountable for making the hard decisions that send his men off to die, but has a fragile authority dependent on how much independence his superiors are allowing him at a particular point in time. Gable does fine in this part, probably his best totally "serious" performance. Although the film takes pains to use the German high command to illustrate examples of bad leadership, it is easy to infer that the same mindset applies to the Allies. With many military leaders distorting events to cover their own ass and willing to sacrifice men for their own career advancement and personal ideology.

The premise of the film is the Air Corps discovery that the Germans have developed the first jet combat plane. Based on the real life Messerschmitt Me-262 (shown as a model in the film and in some archival footage), it is called the "Lantze-Wolf" here and considered so effective as a fighter aircraft that full production would allow the Luftwaffe to regain air supremacy over Europe.

The planes are being assembled in three cities deep in Germany. The only hope to delay their full production is "Operation Stitch" (named for its goal of gaining a stitch in time), a plan to attack these sites through dangerous daylight bombing raids. Dangerous because they will be heavily defended and because the bombers will have to go the final hundred miles without fighter escort-since the America fighters do not have the range to reach and return from the target. This type of daylight bombing was called precision bombing because the bomb-site was more effective with better visibility and a lower altitude. The alternative was safer but less accurate saturation bombing at night (insert Dresden here).

General Dennis must decide whether to start the operation, and then when the bombers take substantial punishment he must decide whether to continue in the expectation of additional high losses.

The film takes certain historical liberties as only after a postwar evaluation of the actual ME-262 did anyone really understand its strategic potential (in the hands of well trained pilots) as a fighter aircraft. Until the end Hitler insisted that it be utilized almost exclusively as a bomber. Although able to carry out this alternative role, its bomb load capacity was too little for any significant impact. That the ME-262 is more a footnote to the war than a major element was due more to Hitler's decision than to any allied efforts to limit its production.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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