This rarely-seen romantic war drama – a screen adaptation of a novel by James Michener – is packed with incidents and spectacular flying scenes and powerfully acted by a very strong cast including William Holden, Fredric March, Grace Kelly and Mickey Rooney.
It’s the story of Harry Brubaker (Holden), a Boston lawyer recalled as a US Navy pilot in a Banshee jet squadron during the Korean War.
Based on the carrier serving as the flagship of Admiral Tarrant (Fredric March), Brubaker’s squadron is assigned to bomb the vital and heavily defended bridge at Toko-Ri in a mountain valley deep inside North Korea.
Brubaker loves his wife (Kelly) and two children deeply and is reluctant to fly on what seem like suicide missions. Gradually, he comes to realise the importance and necessity of his job.
Mickey Rooney turns in a supremely entertaining performance as a pint-sized rescue helicopter pilot – famed for his green top hat and scarf – who can’t stay out of trouble, and future McCloud star Dennis Weaver appears briefly in an uncredited appearance as an Air Intelligence Officer.
But the film’s real stars are the jets themselves, the sleek silver planes that scream on and off the carrier and make bombing runs over North Korea in scenes packed with frightening realism.
Lt. Harry Brubaker
Rear Admiral George Tarrant
Cmdr. Wayne Lee
Lt. (j.g.) Olds