Twelve O’Clock High

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Terence Gavish


  • gobirds2 2 years ago
    15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH is Probably the Best WWII Film Ever Made, February 24, 2015
    gobirds2 (New England) –
    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)

    TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH is an emotional and physiologically charged film looking at the devastating effects of command and the effects of war. In some ways this is the greatest WWII film ever made. Several years ago I worked with a WWII veteran who was in the the Big Red One 1st Infantry division. He was there from Casablanca to a Death camp they liberated in Czechoslovakia. We had many discussions during coffee break and lunch break. I once asked him if there was any film made that took place during WWII that he thought came close to depicting what it was like to be there. I was surprised when he told me that TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH was the best. He simply said that it depicted what it was like. He thought this was a very good film. I was always surprised that a guy in the infantry would pick this as the best WWII film. I have watched it many times and I think I understand what he saw. The opening of the film has always haunted me. It is just so moving gives you a feeling of wanting that is so hard to explain. This film is so captivating and so interesting as it unfolds. Gregory Peck’s General Frank Savage sees things in what appears to be from an objective standpoint. He relieves Gary Merrill’s Colonel Keith Davenport from his command of his tired and worn bomber group because Peck feels Merrill is near the breaking point of his wits and good reason and being too close to his men. Peck takes over command of the group. Peck’s objectivity lacks a key emotional content in his sole purpose to command with detached intellect and get the job done. In time Peck finds that a camaraderie has developed with the group who initially resented Merrill’s relief of command. In time Peck finds himself in a similar state that he found originally found Gary Merrill and so it goes. Dean Jagger as Major Harvey Stovall is pivotal for Peck’s gradual success, and the group’s as well, when he first takes command of the group using red tape to hold up communications and give Peck the time he needs to settle in. Dean Jagger’s performance is so pivotal in the film and the way the film opens and closes in the post-war era and is actually Jagger’s flashback of events remembered with a certain reverence and fervency that is just so telling on the emotional and psychological effects of war, command and much more. Henry King’s direction is simply brilliant and heartfelt as is the screenplay. This is probably the best WWII film ever made.
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  • Roger J. Buffington 2 years ago
    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A magnificent story of military leadership, January 15, 2015
    Roger J. Buffington (Huntington Beach, CA United States) –
    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

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    This review is from: Twelve O’Clock High (Amazon Video)
    This is one of the great war movies of all time. Gregory Peck plays General Frank Savage, who is suddenly called upon to replace a popular Bomb Group Commander who had too closely identified with his men at the expense of the mission. At first the men hate their new commander, but over time, as General Savage corrects the problems with the Group, the men come to respect him and hold him in high regard. This is a great story about leadership and tough going in the face of high casualties and bad odds. It is set in the early days of the US 8th Air Force, which was tasked to carry out daylight precision bombing over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. The concept was new, untried, and only partially successful in these early days. Losses were horrific and the men were tasked, to the breaking point, with the doctrine being that each man must exert “maximum effort.”

    This film is well-acted and every line and every scene is key to the entire story. This is movie-making the way it should be. Although the latter part of the film juxtaposes some actual war combat footage, mostly this movie relies on its gripping storyline rather than razzle-dazzle special effects. The result is a film that many viewers will watch over and over.

    This film is only partly realistic. The high casualties and sometimes low morale were certainly real. However, this film omits the fact that daylight precision bombing over Germany only really became effective once the bomber formations were escorted by Mustang fighters. It is too bad that a sequel to this film was never made to tell that story and correct that inaccuracy.

    No matter. This is a gripping and magnificent film that no viewer should miss. RJB.

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