Twelve O'Clock High Review

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General Frank Savage is sent from a desk job to take command of a US airforce bomber unit, low on moral after heavy losses. Although a struggle at first, he manages to change their tactics and attitudes and turn them into a top fighting unit.


Director King and star Peck shook themselves out of their career-long slumps for two remarkable movies that stand as their best work. The Gunfighter, a revisionist Western, is better known, but this World War II aviation picture is just as masterful. Stiff-backed Peck is given command of a bomber wing stationed in England, charged with turning a group of foul-ups into a crack unit and of instituting a risky programme of "daylight precision bombing". It plays all the usual patriot games as the bomber crews overcome their problems and carry out their war-winning missions, but the movie gains real depth as it shows the terrible toll the process takes on the commanding officer. Peck's greatest scene is his understated nervous breakdown as he is unable to haul himself up into a plane.

A truly remarkable film, that manages to excite and enthrall as well as offer deep, rounded characters.