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kidsal

TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH

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The opening of this movie is unforgetable.

A middle-age man is riding a bicyle through the English countryside. He stops along the road and looks into a field with grass barely hiding the broken asphalt. Then you being to see the grass waving in the prop wash of unseen airplanes. Then the sound of engines growing stronger. Finally you are taken into the WWII airfield with bombers starting their engines for takeoff to targets in Europe.

I don't remember the year this was filmed, but that opening has remained with me!

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Very memorable film indeed. Just as good is Command Decision with Clark Gable and a great supporting cast, filmed just a year earlier 1948.

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I have to disagree; COMMAND DECISION, adapted from a stage play, is talky, contrived and static. TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH. on the other hand, has that wonderful semi-documentary look and feel that so many of Darryl Zanuck's films from the late 1940's-early '50's had, which was particularly appropriate for the subject matter.

 

The latter film, moreover, benefited from having deeper, more psychologically complex characters (how many films of the period would have been allowed to portray its protagonist -- played by one of Hollywood's biggest stars and most appealing leading men -- as having a nervous breakdown that renders him mute for a quarter of the film?) and a far more expansive physical production.

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I agree with Sproket, Command D shows its roots as coming from a stage play and doesnt seem to play as tight as Twelve.

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The very first time I ever saw "12 O'clock High" was in 1950 and I was about 8 years old. That opening scene at the airfield which had been over grown with grass and weeds remained with me for years. I didn't know what a dissolve was, but I knew I has seen something special when Dean Jagger is standing there and removes his glasses and the sound of the props start up and the tall grass starts blowing and the camera pans up and the B-17 comes into the frame. That film is still one of the finest WW2 films ever produced and Greg Peck's finest roles. I remember reading years later he said that was the first film he was really proud of....

"Command Decision" is a very good film of a good play with a good cast, but you can't equate it with "12 O'clock High", they are two different films on the same subject....

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Mar 19, 2010 6:43 PM

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If your looking for action, Command Decision isn't much of a picture. But I love it for the dialogue and the subject matter. And it has a terriffic cast that all do a great job.

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Great film. Opening credits and music set the tone. Rate it second to "The Story of G I Joe." After hat "Decision Before Dawn", "The Best Years of Our Lives" "Battle of Britian" "Platoon" and on and on but NO John Wayne.

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Agreed, it is a great fiml, my favorite among war films that focus on air force operations.

 

Has anyone ever seen any episodes of the 1960's television series verison of 12 Oclock High? I watched a few episodes back in 2007, when American Life TV was showing reruns of this show once a week. Not bad, but not as gritty as the movie.

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I remember the series well. Like you said it didn't have the gritty feel of the film. Robert Lansing was cast in the Peck role as Gen. Frank Savage, but was killed in action after one season. They said they wanted a younger man for the lead. So they hired Paul Burke as the new lead, who was two years older then Lansing. The fact was Lansing ,according to the producer had become difficult. The series lasted a total of 3 seasons, or actually two and a half, the last being in color.

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