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  • Task Force was the first of two films Gary Cooper made regarding the development of aviation. Here he plays the fictional Jonathan Scott who looks back on his life after retiring from the Navy. The second is the Court Martial of Billy Mitchell where he plays the real life Army Aviation pioneer.

    For today's fans if one wants to see where Tom Cruise and the gang from Top Gun all got their start, take a look at Task Force. The idea of a floating flattop ship from where airplanes could take off and land was one that was scoffed at post World War I. Pilots didn't have the skills yet for that. What Task Force shows is Gary Cooper and a whole bunch of other people who believed in an idea living and dying to prove that idea.

    Task Force was memorable in the career of Gary Cooper for two other reasons. It was the first film he did after leaving his original studio, Paramount, at Warner Brothers where he worked for about five years. It was also the last film he did with good friend Walter Brennan. They made eight joint film appearances, including some memorable ones in The Westerner and Sergeant York where they got Oscars, Brennan for The Westerner and Cooper for Sergeant York.

    Jane Wyatt is Cooper's leading lady, playing the part of the faithful wife where if this had been made at MGM, June Allyson would have had the part. She's the widow of one of Cooper's early Navy flier friends who is killed trying to land on a new aircraft carrier.

    Director Delmar Daves made good use of actual combat footage both black and white and in the last 15 minutes color. Lent a real air of authenticity to what we were viewing. Look for some good supporting performances from Brennan, Wayne Morris, Bruce Bennett and the best being an obtuse United States Senator played by Stanley Ridges.

    The final shot of the film shows Cooper now in civilian attire with jets passing overhead. That was a whole new skill that had to be learned by the next generation of Top Guns. Very graphically demonstrated in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.

    I'd like to think that Tom Cruise and the rest of the cast of Top Gun saw those two films and realized the great heritage they were now going to portray.
  • I have just watched this on TCM,and thought it was a very good film.It was a lot more realistic than most 1940s war films,and i was convinced that they were using real archive footage,which was the reason why the film suddenly changes to colour.I thought this was a great idea as special effects back then couldn't have shown the effects of mass destruction that was caused on US Naval ships.And this being a very important film needs to put its point across,so real archive footage does engross the viewer more.Gary Cooper was a fine actor of his generation,very convincing in his portrayal of Scott,the captain.Although i did have a chuckle when they said Scottie is on the Enterprise,i kept expecting someone to say beam him up.In all a very well made film shame its not on sale in the UK.
  • fenoixrising16 March 2006
    I first saw this movie late one night when I couldn't sleep. For those of us that study the history of military aviation, this movie is a God-send! The "between wars" US military had a dismal understanding of aviation. And this film shows what Naval aviators had to contend with. The film depicts, correctly, the backward "John Paul Jones" thinking of the Naval brass at the time. The film covers some 20 years but does it very well. Gary Cooper plays the role of a Naval aviator better than he plays most of his roles. And seeing Walter Brennen as a Navy admiral was different. I grew up watching him as "Grandpa McCoy." Aside from the "movie" stuff, the film is a very good history lesson. Most people can't believe that we had one of the worst air fleets in the world during the inter-war period. And it was because of the 19th century thinking of the senior brass. But for airplane nuts like myself, seeing the old Boeing F4B's, Curtiss Goshawks and Grumman F2F's and F3F's actually in the air was the most wonderful part of the movie. If you get a chance to see it, do so.
  • inspectors7129 November 2005
    If you have Turner Classic Movies, it would behoove you to take the time to watch Task Force, a fine, passionate, and patriotic film about the advent of the aircraft carrier as the principal weapon of the US Navy in World War II. Although it is a product of the times--and the Production Code--TF delivers the story of how "flat-tops" superseded the battleship as the principal tool for, in Navyspeak, "projecting power." With the skillful use of lots of film footage (which helped tremendously in avoiding the use of cheesy ship models), TF tells the story of a young naval officer played believably here by a much older Gary Cooper. As Cooper advances in his skill as an aviator, he runs afoul of bureaucrats and bullies, both outside the navy and in. This results in his being disciplined and scolded for speaking his mind about naval aviation, and his frustration with a lack of personal advancement and the navy not being prepared for future conflict. Cooper is a lanky metaphor for the advent of the carrier as the Queen of the Seas.

    With Pearl Harbor, Cooper's "Scottie" Scott is thrown into battle against an enemy that is much better prepared for air combat, and with the aid and leadership of his father figure, Walter Brennan, he (as metaphor) gains the recognition and ultimate victory he deserves.

    I read somewhere that Gary Cooper surrendered his chance at ultra-stardom when he made certain decisions about parts that robbed his film persona of the sort of sex appeal that would have guaranteed his place as a film star/sex symbol. The reviewer said something about Cooper being more of a big brother than a lover.

    I don't know if all this is true, but Cooper's image of being a friendly, decent, human hero is clearly seen in Task Force. He--and Brennan--carry this movie. The chemistry Coop has with his audience and his on-screen friend and C.O., Brennan, puts real blood and muscle into a movie that at times gets a bit too documentarian. Add in a sweet, loving performance by Jane Wyatt as the graceful and gracious military wife and you have a really human movie that works as history lesson, war film, political essay, and love story.

    Finally, what I love about this film is its innate patriotism. There simply is no questioning of America's place and motive in the years leading up to and during the Second World War. We were a democracy threatened by tyranny. We were unprepared for war because we despised it so very much; once confronted, we prevailed. The stock footage of Cooper's carrier (in real life, the badly damaged USS Franklin) arriving at New York with her flight deck and upper hull twisted into scrap metal by Japanese explosives is startling, a metaphor for the cost of not being prepared with the sort of cutting-edge technology, training, and will that might have reduced the bloodiness of the war or prevented it all together.
  • This film depicts the reality of war, better than the turn of the century films, like Pearl Harbor and Saving Private Ryan. The kamikaze attacks what looked like the USS Franklin are very realistic, as were the attacks on JNS Akagi. It also shows realistic views of the USS Missouri in action in the storming of Okinawa. The film just shows Americans in their best light, fighting against the odds, and their own superiors at the same time. Not like Operation Overlord and the Ardennes Offensive, battles more often depicted, which by comparison were cakewalks where the outcome was never in doubt. In this movie, the Japanese are also seen as being a creditable and respected adversaries.

    Gary Cooper is much more convincing as a WW2 leader than say, Ben Affleck. The leaders at the time were modest men, just doing a job. There was also a lot of technical planning involved in WW2, not just gungho American soldiers and sailors in continuous and unrealistic action. It is also far more dangerous at sea than on land, as you can't go anywhere. The danger element and the general communication between the CVs was bought out well in this movie.

    This film is a historical recounting of the greatest naval episode of all time.
  • In my opinion, the best movie ever made about the U.S. Navy in the Pacific conflict. With the pre-war black and white, and wartime, colored documentary footage adding that extra gloss to a fine film. Coop took on his role perfectly. Walter Brennan could never let you down whatever role he played. Bruce Bennet, always the reliable supporting actor. John Ridgley too. Stanley Ridges? Reliable as ever as a trouble maker. Moroni Olsen as a senior flag officer, as usual, eminence oozes out of him. And last but least, Wayne Morris; he must have felt at home in the movie, serving as he did as a carrier-based fighter pilot in the navy in the Pacific. Not being on sale in the U.K. video stores. Buyiing this video through was a MUST for me.
  • paulpsyche10 December 2006
    This past week I watched "Task Force" on Turner Classic Movies. What a great movie about US Naval Aviation, before and during WWII. For starters, the actors play their parts masterfully. You can tell that Gary Cooper really enjoys playing this character and telling this Navy story. I also liked how the movie had continuity of time, being that the story spanned many years. Perhaps most of all, I enjoyed the footage of the aircraft carriers themselves. I thought to myself, how the carriers that they were filming on, only a few years before 1949, were the centerpiece of the most horrific combat of WWII. I am sure many of the actors and those who saw the film remembered vividly when the news from the Battle of Midway and Okinawa reached home. So many young Americans died. What brought a tear to my eye, was the video at the end of the movie when the USS Enterprise is returning to NY City. The camera man at the time in 1945, films the damage with NYC icons like the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge in the background. It is amazing footage. I thought to myself how the young veterans in the audience in 1949 must have reflected on their war fought only a few years before. Therefore, I love how this movie of history is indeed history itself.
  • Gary Cooper and Jane Wyatt shine in this 1949 film about the history of aviation in warfare.

    The picture begins in 1922 when carriers were just getting started. The picture is at its best when we see the early American isolationism that evolved after World War 1.

    Gary Cooper is in fine form as the pilot who is banished to Panama for stepping on too many toes for his pro-carrier beliefs. Jane Wyatt plays a woman who loses her husband during a practice run and marries Cooper later on.

    The last 20 minutes of the film is shown in Technicolor under the admirable direction of Natalie Kalmus, a person used Technicolor so vibrantly in the films of the late 1930s and 1940s as well. The battle scenes are quite authentic and this picture serves well as a tribute to our fighting forces during World War 11.
  • Gary Cooper does an excellent job playing a Gary Cooper-type character. This is one of the better WWII movies to come out of the 1940s era. Jane Wyatt and Walter Brennen also do a good job. Somehow, this film always gets a lower rating than it deserves. It is somewhat dated by today's standards but gives good background of naval aviation with some very good live action combat film footage. For another good 1940s era WWII action movie with lots of good gun camera shots, see "Fighter Squadron" with Edmund O'Brien and Robert Stack.
  • I thought I saw all of Gary Cooper's war movies, but I just caught this one today on TMC. As others have stated, Brennan and Cooper are a great pair and they were a very good pair in this movie. Except for the typical lack of bloody wounds (in forties war movies), it was impressive that the dramatic detail in this movie was more accurate than usual for this genre. The movie did a great job depicting the interaction in the CIC (combat information center) and elsewhere on the ships. However unusual it seemed, transitioning from black and white to color to show plot transition (The Wizard of Oz notwithstanding) was effective for me. Deep down, I think it might have been a way to sneak in color war footage. As I am also a Jane Wyatt (Spock's mother) fan, she was great as Scott's (Gary Cooper's character) wife. Although it did seem to be a bit incongruous that she dressed as well as she did considering her situation. (Sorry, you'll have to see the movie.) Summary: Whether or not you've seen Midway, see Task Force.
  • grantss2 March 2018
    Weak script, and historically not very accurate. The battle scenes, mostly taken from actual WW2 battle footage, were certainly worth watching though.
  • Task Force gives an excellent account of the earlie years of carrier aviation, right from the 1922 Arms Limitation Conference and the old USS Langly through to the Korean war with the Essex class ships and the jet planes. I especially like that the movie features the real USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise. I think that the movie excellently shows the struggle to gain acknowledgement for carrier aviation, right up to the the attack on Pearl Harbour were the Japanese showed the U.S. how to utilize their carriers. Also the way certain characters has been in-cooperated in the script, the character of Pete Richards bears a striking recemblance to the life of Adm. Marc Mitcher, and also Adm. Yamamotos earlier assignments in Washington D.C. and old Captain Joe Reeves role in carrier aviation are brilliantly portrayed. Finally, Gary Cooper is an excellent choice of actor for the part of Captain Scott, his posture and seriousness makes fore a real officer and gentleman (there should also be something for the ladies !?)
  • This film with Gary Cooper, Jane Wyatt (Mrs "Sarek" from Star Trek), and Walter Brennan, is about the history of Naval Air Power: Starting with the country's general stupidity about air power regarding aircraft carriers- And the fight against such stupidity and the eventual win of level heads and an adequate task force in the pacific during WW II.

    What is unusual about this film is that it begins in Black and White and is filmed as if it were a film made in the 30's - And about halfway through it becomes colourised. This film starts in the early 20's when there were very few carriers and aircraft and pilots to fly them. Cooper's character fights (Along with Brennan who is his immediate superior) to get better Naval Air Power. He is rebuffed by his superiors but never lets up... And eventually, after the incident in June 1942 where 3 Aircraft Carriers took out four Japanese carriers but were sunk or damaged themselves, the Navy was granted a better carrier force.

    Lots of great war footage is used in this film: They did not use special effects for Aerial battle scenes in moovies like these: It is odd to think that when you see a plane being shot down, a real person got killed in the crash.

    But the point of such films is not really entertainment: At the start of WW II the US had just about nothing as far as armed forces were concerned. It took decades to get to the point were we had what it took to take on a country with a superior maritime tradition.

    The real war footage is a stark reminder of things that happened. In recent years, this trend of using real war footage has again cropped up in a few pictures. For example, in "The Chronicles of Riddick," the "fireworks" in a battle are real rockets from Iraq.

    This film ends with Cooper retiring, and we see jets flying across the sky- So in a way, this film not only is showing us the history of Naval Air power, but also of Hollywood film-making.

    And that makes "Task Force" a clever and important film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I caught most of this on TCM today and as much of a war film buff as I am, I'm sorry to say that I lost interest in it. TCM is showing way too many films with Walter Brennan in them and I'm losing interest in him after so many films (he was great in Sgt York though). Highpoint was seeing real life combat Navy Ace Wayne Morris, but his acting is nothing like in Paths of Glory (why'd they only make him a LT?, at least make him a LCDR and give his role the meat the high billing has him at). Anyway, pros: some great shots of actual American fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo planes; also, it was cool to show my wife who dutifully watched with me, what goes on in CIC with the plotting of enemy ship sightings etc (thats what I have done on carriers). Cons, very wooden acting, also this script has dialog that explains out loud the actions going on so the naive audience understands to the point that its like a kids cartoon show. Big con was all the same stock footage we've memorized by now (mostly of the kamikaze planes that happened long after the battle of Midway took place) of the planes going down. Pretty much will hold hard hard core war buffs interests but most others will pass on this dated film after a few minutes. I wish someone would remake a movie on the battle of Midway based on the book "Incredible Victory" by Walter Lord. In it it really takes you into so much of the battle with narrative from both sides and includes the Midway land forces, and the daring night attack by our PBY planes the night before the main battle which I found very thrilling and interesting to read about (it's mentioned in the film Task Force but not the film Midway). Mr Lord wrote the book "A Night To Remember" which I think was used for the film of the same name so it wouldn't be a stretch to make a really choice film based on another of his books (Am I the only one noticing the LACK of films made recently in which the Americans clearly win?). Task Force: 6 of 10 to see real war hero actor Wayne Morris (just in something like what he was really doing in the war and a different role than in Paths Of Glory), and cool 40's carrier operations (gotta love those springs that the planes crash into if they don't hook a line, yecch).
  • After leaves U.S. Navy the Admiral Jonatham L Scott (Gary Cooper) reminder in several flashback your career since World War I until World War II and his fight to developing news aircraft carrier that will be in near future the main force in this kind of war about to come, semi-documentary movie hosted by own Gary Cooper, but there an interesting twist in half of movie black and white for color mainly because they have to use old footage from its time mixing with color, whaterver a compelling movie as study of the historic events, learning always is useful !!!
  • If you wish to see "Task Force" as a historical account of the U.S. Navy's use of aircraft carriers, the film does a reputable job. Plenty of archival footage is used, so an air of authenticity pervades the battle scenes.

    The primary character is Jonathan L. Scott (Gary Cooper), a career naval aviator who later commands a flattop in the Pacific theater of WWII, where carriers became an important part of the Navy's campaign. Scott is portrayed as something of a troublemaker, always willing to promote his ideas of naval strategy, regardless of the consequences. He is an ardent spokesman for carriers. This rings true, as there are always men of vision in (every branch of)the military who are ignored and even persecuted for their beliefs--usually by members of Congress and career officers who either wish to feather their own beds or who equate bigger and more powerful as more effective (especially in aircraft design).

    I do think there are many other actors who could have played the part of Scott with more animation and/or passion. Cooper is most effective when playing characters with little social savvy (e.g. "Sergeant York" or "Friendly Persuasion"). One could argue that Scott might be such a man, but a more effective commander would be a man who had command presence and the ability to inspire. A more passionate relationship between Scott and his wife might also have made the counterpoint of their personal lives more touching.
  • As someone who knows a great deal about naval aviation history, I give "Task Force" high marks for accuracy and atmosphere. The central event is the 1942 Battle of Midway, which is SO much better than the egregious 1976 film. The attention to detail in TF is about 900% better than "Midway", with far better characterization to boot.
  • Gary Cooper plays a navy man that was one of the first pilots trained to fly from an aircraft carrier (the USS Langley) and continues his career through WWII until his retirement. The first section of the film focuses a lot on Cooper and his relationships with friends, his future wife and the navy brass.

    Later, when WWII arrives, the film is much more of an action flick and gives a very competent overview of the war in the Pacific. While this did employ a lot of stock footage, it was unusual in that most all of the footage was used correctly. Unlike the ridiculously historically inaccurate film, MIDWAY (1976), TASK FORCE made sure to use clips that were accurate--featuring the correct model planes for each segment of the war (whereas in MIDWAY, they often showed planes that weren't even in the naval arsenal until well after the battle as well as had dive bombers magically turn into fighter planes in mid-flight due to horrid editing blunders).

    This film really has widely different appeal depending on your perspective. If you are a history teacher and airplane nut like me, then it earns a 9 because it does a really good job of conveying the history of the American aircraft carriers from its inception in the early 1920s through WWII. However, if you are not, then you might find the film a bit cold (as it often focuses more on events than people towards the middle to the end of the film) and it might seem a bit confusing if you aren't familiar with the history of these great ships.
  • Told by way of a retrospective on the career of "Adm. Scott" (Gary Cooper) this is quite an interesting story of the evolution of the aircraft carrier and the training and development of naval piloting skills dating back to the 1920s - when the ships looked little more stable than upturned irons, and a fair degree of the pilots were injured or worse as they tried to land amidst a pitching sea with crosswinds galore. The aerial photography is superb, giving us quite an insight into the perils of trying to land a flimsily built aircraft on a 65 foot long object, in the middle of the sea. That's the interesting bit. The acting is really neither here nor there. Cooper has a glint in his eye at the start but becomes way too earnest as he rises through the ranks and has to strive to establish his vision of carrier-based naval air squadrons. He has a few helpers en route - an oddly wooden Walter Brennan in a much straighter role that we are used to seeing him in, and to be honest - he isn't a natural. Wayne Morris and Jane Wyatt make up the numbers but this film is really about the history of maritime aviation. The drama is very much secondary and aside from the last fifteen minutes, it might as well be a (good) documentary with some familiar faces presenting it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Written and directed by Delmer Daves, this unremarkable war drama uses several real events concerning the development of aircraft carrier warfare, from the original U.S.S. Langley and bi-plane aircraft of the 1920's through the U.S.S. Enterprise (among others) during World War II, as its backdrop (even jet fighters flying in formation are shown at the end of the picture).

    Initially thought to be too vulnerable to fund relative to battleships (e.g. slugging it out since 1812), the carrier became the Navy's most strategic weapon around which much of the rest of fleet was built to support. Six years before Gary Cooper would play Billy Mitchell, a visionary who predicted the advancement and strategic significance of the airplane in Naval battles, he played (a fictional) Jonathan Scott, a Navy pilot who finds himself in a similar position with regards to the aircraft carrier.

    The film actually begins (and ends) with officer Scott's retirement from the Navy, four years after the end of the Pacific campaign and WW II. Therefore, the story is told in flashback beginning in the early twenties when Scott was just a seaplane pilot being told he'd have to takeoff and land on a deck 65 feet wide, that of the only early carrier (a ship not decommissioned due to budget cuts), the Langley.

    The plot progresses through years of struggle with (e.g.) Congress over the acceptance of this new technology, up to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and 'our' subsequent hit and run strategy and tactics that led to the significant Battle of Midway victory etc..

    Most of the film is in B&W, but the last portion (about 20 minutes) of the movie is in color; it appears to consist of stock footage of the actual battles, ostensibly taking place as more than a dozen newly outfitted carriers advance towards Okinawa: the carriers' defense weaponry against enemy aircraft and Kamikaze attacks as well as planes crash landings on their decks are shown.

    The background story that holds everything together is that of Scott's life and Navy career. His initial flight commander, who during the course of the story becomes an Admiral who's also his superior officer, is Pete Richard, played by Walter Brennan (of course, their last of 8 films together). Jane Wyatt plays Mary Morgan, the wife of another early carrier pilot (Rory Mallinson, uncredited) who's killed that later becomes Scott's wife. Wayne Morris, who actually served in the Navy during World War II himself and became a highly decorated flying ace, plays McKinney, a student of Scott's at the Annapolis Naval Academy that becomes a dive bomber; Julie London plays his wife, the former Miss Barbara McKinney. Bruce Bennett plays McCluskey, someone who served with Scott while he was (being punished for speaking out of turn and) 'flying a desk', stationed at the Panama Canal, until they were both called to serve on a new carrier (the Saratoga; Jack Holt plays wing commander Reeves, who'd also served with Scott back in the 1920's). Stanley Ridges plays Senator Bentley and Art Baker plays Senator Vincent; both of whom argue over the value of the carrier to the fleet and future warfare with Admiral Ames (Moroni Olsen; Laura Treadwell, uncredited, plays his wife). John Ridgely plays Scott's oldest friend, Dixie Rankin, a fellow pilot from the early days whose wife Ruth (Mary Lawrence, uncredited) is killed during the Pearl Harbor raid. Apparently Edmond O'Brien is the uncredited voice heard on radio announcing the attack. Kenneth Tobey (uncredited) also appears very briefly as Captain Ken Willliamson, a man who's escorting and/or dating Mary at a Washington D.C. function before Scott arrives.
  • Probably the only true war hero in this movie While filming Flight Angels Morris became interested in flying and became a pilot. With war in the wind, he joined the Naval Reserve and became a Navy flier in 1942, leaving his film career behind for the duration of the war. Assigned to the carrier Essex in the Pacific, Morris shot down seven Japanese planes and contributed to the sinking of five ships. He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals Read his biography. It is better then I can remember. Sadly died at a young age of a heart attack on board a Navy ship in San Francisco bay and was pronounced at near by Navy hospital. Married once before the war and had one child and again married after the war with two children. Buried in the Arlington National Cemetery along with his brother who flew a B-17 in Europe. Thanks for your time. Stay Safe.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Gary Cooper is an admiral retiring from the US Navy. He solemnly closes his suitcase and turns to leave his ship, an aircraft carrier. The officers are at attention as he walks across the deck. He boards the gig and heads for shore. Then his narrative begins: "It doesn't seem like twenty-seven years ago that I first flew an airplane off the Langley --" And so it goes. The voices of Cooper and one or two other principals carry us through a kind of Classic Comics illustration of the development of naval aviation, from the first fragile and clumsy biplanes wheeling around on the flight deck of the USS Langley in the 1920s to an overflight of jet fighters as Cooper and his wife, Jane Wyatt, stand on the pier, staring proudly up at them as they zoom overhead.

    A familiar structure. It's like Jimmy Stewart growing up with the organization in "The FBI Story," a promo for J. Edgar Hoover, President-for-Life. And it was used by John Ford in "The Wings of Eagles," although there was more robust humor and a lot of distraction was provided by a drunken wife. The role of wife in "Task Force" is less challenging and of no importance whatever. She's there to tell him how proud she is of his successes, to comfort him when he's sad, and to talk common sense to him when he's so frustrated he's ready to quit the Navy. (Usually it's the other way around, with the wife jealous of her husband's being "married to the Navy.") There's a straw man -- a viciously anti-military editor who rails against expensive investments like aircraft carriers, even after the battle of Midway, when everyone down to the lowliest swabby recognized that the war in the Pacific depended on carriers. The guy should leave his brain to the Smithsonian. Julie London in a small role is yummy, with startling eyes and a nose by Praxitiles.

    The movie gives us a sense of the passage of time. The footage of the Langley in the 20s morphs into the modern carriers of World War II and the shooting changes from black and white to color. There's a good deal of interspersed combat footage, most of it familiar, beginning with Greg Toland's reenactment of the precipitating event in "Pearl Harbor". Flaming airplanes fall apart in the air. A wounded American aviator has his Hellcat torn in half during a crash landing. A stricken carrier sends up a ball of vermilion fire. The same airplane crashes two times, maybe three, with the negative flipped. If I see that same Japanese fighter trailing fire and smoke and skipping along a few dozen feet above the sea before doing a sudden nose dive, I think I'll scream. Forty millimeter guns pound away. Officers sit and sweat out the battles while the score imitates a clock with a Thump thump Thump thump beat.

    The battles aren't really described in any detail, and the detail that's provided always makes our side look good, which is to be expected. References are made to Midway, the Phillipine Sea, and Okinawa. (Kamikazes at Okinawa caused more casualties among Navy personnel than were suffered by the Army ashore.) One genuinely brave and self-sacrificing aviator is named among all the fictional character, McCluskey, but he isn't given the right role. Wayne Morris, an actor of little discernible talent, plays another aviator. In real life he'd actually put his rear end on the line playing a Naval aviator during the war. The editing is only a little sloppy. An F4F landing suddenly morphs into a TBF, then back again, but that doesn't happen very often, and the canopy of the hopelessly obsolete TBD Devastator is accurately pictured.

    The whole movie, from beginning to end, amounts to a promotional ad for Naval aviation. Gary Cooper is the central figure but he's only there to guide us along through the progression of things and events, a kind of patient and explanatory Virgil taking us through a specular gray world that sometimes turns hellish.

    It isn't a bad movie. I always enjoy movies about aviation and the Navy. But, as far as I could tell, there was only a single original touch in the script. Cooper's ship has been torpedoed and his best friend killed on the bridge below, and when Cooper touches the chest-high steel shield to look down at the body, the metal is so hot that he winces and quickly withdraws his hands. It would have been nice if there had been more such delicate and personal touches.
  • Just saw this for the first time on TCM and I've got to say that this is one of the best war films I've ever scene. My late grandfather (Naval Academy class of '29) was on the Hornet in World War II and the attention to detail in this film is phenomenal. The action sequences are gripping, the actual archival footage is seamlessly integrated with the actor re-creations, and the film does quite a service to history by outlining the development of the US carrier force from the 1920's (the lead characters are all alumni of the Langley) through WW2 -- down to the fight the Navy had with Congress to get a new carrier fleet funded after Pearl Harbor. It manages to convey a huge quantity of information and do so factually without being a documentary - it's all action-packed drama with several strong human interest plots / subplots including a pretty good depiction of what Navy fliers wives went through. Having watch this on TCM this morning, I'm going to buy the video. This is a must-have! It's also really interesting how they switch suddenly at the end of the film from B&W to Technicolor. Odd, but it works and helps integrate the color archival footage into the film. Four stars in my book!