8 April 2012 | Spikeopath
Chocs Away-In With The B Bombers.
Strategic Air Command is directed by Anthony Mann and written by Valentine Davies and Beirne Lay. It stars James Stewart, June Allyson, Frank Lovejoy, Bruce Bennett and Barry Sullivan. Music is by Victor Young and cinematography by William H. Daniels.
Film is inspired in part by the true story of baseball great Ted Williams, who after serving in World War II was drafted to serve in the Korean War just as his baseball career was taking off.
There's sometimes a film you watch that you desperately want to be good because you can't imagine having to pan it. This becomes even more irksome when it's directed by and stars personal favourites. Sadly I find myself in that irksome frame of mind where Strategic Air Command is concerned, for in spite of the quality of Mann and Stewart, and some truly special "up in the air" sequences, picture is a bore.
The flag waving and thematics involved are fine, these people deserve recognition, and it's great to have someone like Stewart, drawing from real life inspiration, leading out the story, but when on the ground the film comes off as an advertising reel for the Air Force that's punctured by military musings. None of which is very interesting.
On the major side of plus points is the planes themselves, those B36/47 Bombers are a sight to behold, graceful yet menacing, and beautifully brought to life in Vista Vision and Technicolor. The "loyal wife of an airman" thread is neatly welded into the human story, with Allyson's chemistry with Stewart set in stone after their work together in The Stratton Story (1949) & TheGlen Miller Story (1954).
Hardly a stinker, then, and Lay's story was Oscar Nominated, but it is a chore to get through, and one has to be suspicious of a film where the best thing about it is an aeroplane. 4/10