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Remembered Today:

Billy Mitchell Movie


PFF
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Seen 1955 "The CourtMartial of Billy Mitchell".

Commet--good movie BUT--

1) When the German battleships are sunk-its obvious these are models.

Certainly they could have 'integrated" photos of sinking Battleships.

2) Why Gary Cooper??

I would have prefered a real flying General such as "Jimmy Stewart"

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2) Why Gary Cooper??

I would have prefered a real flying General such as "Jimmy Stewart"

Pardon me... but since then does military rank arise the level of acting talent? Gary Cooper was quite a fine actor. war is War and film is Film, in other words "give to Caesar what to Caesar belongs, and Give God what belongs to God"

(Not to mean that Mr. Stewart was not a good actor, quite a terrific one he was: but he was so already before ever wearing an uniform).

Puzzled Gloria

:blink:

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Well Jimmy Setwart was not only a Actor_HE WAS A REAL FLYING GENERAL :)

PFF, I see your point.

I have to tell you that Stewart acted in a picture related which seems somewhat related to his military experience (I'm posting a cartoon by R.S. Sherriffs) titled "Strategic Air Command" (1955). I have not seen the film so I'm afraid I can't give you further details about it. (tho' maybe you have seen the flick already ;) )

Yet, back to the issue, I believe that it was not necessary for Cooper to be a general in order to play one: note that he played Sergeant York without being a sergeant. In fact, if "General" roles had been given on Stewart on account of his military record, poor JS could have been sadly typecasted in military roles, film spectators missing the chance to see him in more varied roles in comedies, melodramas and thrillers.

I'll dwell further in my point with a few examples: Kirk Douglas was born a free man and the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, yet he was convincingly gripping as a Thracian gladiator leading a slave revolt; Charles Laughton failed as a boy the entrance exam to become a naval cadet, and was prone to seasickness, yet, as Captain Bligh, he really could made you believe he was capable of leading the tiny "Bounty" jollyboat to a port of call more than 3000 miles away; Burt Lancaster, American, started his career working in a circus trapeze, and yet in "The Leopard" he was the most regal of Sicilian princes; Boris Karloff was a rather gentle man who was not made up from spare body parts; Believe it or not, Toshiro Mifune was not really a samurai, etc... And Shakespeare had not even been born when the Battle of Agincourt took place.

Best, ;)

Gloria

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"Strategic Air Command" was a real, old fashioned flag-waver. It was good cinema, with lots of impressive flying but cannot be taken seriously any more than TopGun.

Good point about "what if Stewart played Mitchell...", but my vote would have been for Clark Gable to get the role. He brought something of his WW11 experience to "Command Decision", where he was totally convincing as an Air Force general, and a little out of step with the Hollywood tough guy image of that time.

I have always thought that Robert Mitchams finest role was as the marine in "Heaven Knows, Mr Allison". Was this because he was a marine in WW11? Well, no, it was because he was a good actor, but being a marine didn't hurt.

Must get back to my trivia,

Bruce

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Watch "Strategic Air Command" for the real star: colour footage of the Convair B36 Peacemaker nuclear bomber: the largest warplane ever -wingspan greater than a 747; six propellers and four jets; the predecessor to the B52, and probably the most inaptly named aircraft ever. The last shots are of the B47 Stratojet bomber: beautiful but deadly, like my wife.

Adrian

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Strategic Air Command featured the romantic coupling of June Allyson with James Stewart against the background of a World War 2 air force veteran and reservist brought back into the USAF to play a leading role converting from piston aircraft to the new jet engined B47 Bomber.The B47 was the forerunner of the B52 in the newly created SAC and the film is worth watching for its superb aerial scenes.The film was intended to show the role of the USAF in maintaining the peace.

June Allyson and James Stewart had also featured the previous year as man and wife when they made the "Glenn Miller Story".This was a highly popular film as the public, even 10 years after Miller's death were still interested with his particular type of big band music and its era.There was still some intrigue in a celebrity vanishing without trace on a cross channel hop to Paris in Christmas 1944.

James Stewart had previously flown as a civilian and went on after joining the USAAF in 1942 to become a flying instructor in the US.He gained operational experience flying with the 8th Army Air Force in Europe from the spring of 1944.He intially came to Britain as the CO of the 703 Squadron of the 445 Bomber Group operating out of Tibenham with B24s and later became the Group Executive Officer of the 453 Bomber Group which consisted of the 732,733,734 and 735 Squadrons based at Old Buckenham,again with B24s.

I believe he flew 25 operations (or missions as the USAAF would term them).This would qualify him as completing (what the RAF would term, a tour) making him elegible for screening from flying over enemy territory.

He retired from the USAF as a reservist with the rank of Brigadier General in 1959 and would have been possibily at this rank when he starred in Strategic Air Command.Regarding acting he would have been a busy man in 1954/5.

Finally,respects to the memory of Roger Freeman,a first class aviation historian who passed away recently and whose works gave a good insight to the history of the USAAF in Europe in the Second World War.

Regards

Frank East

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I’m sorry to disagree but that is not correct. Agincourt was 1415 and Shakespeare was probably born in 1564. He wrote Henry V in 1599.

I think I wrote it badly (quite possibly in my pidgin english), because that was exactly I meant to say. (gotta check my english grammar from the shelf!)

Thanks for the correction.

Gloria

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I have always thought that Robert Mitchams finest role was as the marine in "Heaven Knows, Mr Allison".  Was this because he was a marine in WW11? Well, no, it was because he was a good actor, but being a marine didn't hurt.

Must get back to my trivia,

Bruce

Mitch's finest performance (IMHO) was probably as the evil preacher in "The Night of theHunter"... and he had no background whatsoever in church. Back to uniforms, he was also in Story of G.I. Joe (1945).

BTW, "Heaven Knows..." is quite a nice movie... Deborah Kerr is also fine (but then no surprise, she always is)

Gloria

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I'm not sure what is being argued ...

Billy Mitchell demanded Gary Cooper - he's the quiet and solid American hero ... He's Robert Jordon, Sgt York and the Sherrif in High Noon ... Gary Cooper's FIRST role was in Wings ... (where he immediately crashs and dies ... but leaves a great candy bar) .... Gary Cooper is more American than ... well, he's an American ... and as a guiding light genius persecuted by naysaying political and military hacks (notice Gen Pershing is delicately let off the real hook) ... well, he's the perfect guy.

Jimmy Steward is the "aw shucks" American ... in Strategic Air Command ... was that a movie or a DOD commerical for higher taxes ??? You right in that you actually get to see a B-36 close up !!! Wow ... and those B-47s ... again, wow and double wow ... plot, what plot, we don't need no stinkin' plot ... The Commies are at our door and the boys in blue are here to defend us .. or at least destroy the guys who will destroy us ... it's a commerical for MAD ... and as a kid of the 50s I LOVED IT ....

Jimmy Stewart was perfect ...

what are we talking about?

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From IMDb's Movie Review Site: Trivia for The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)--The Mitchell family was very unhappy with the film, especially the casting of the tall, laconic Gary Cooper in the lead role. The real Billy Mitchell was short with an explosive temper. The family thought James Cagney would have been ideal.

I don't know if "Billy Mitchell" shot entirely in its year of release (1955), but let's consider that some of it may have been filmed in 1954 and see what Stewart & Cooper did those two years:

Jimmy Stewart, 1954:

The Glenn Miller Story

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock classic)

1955:

The Far Country

Strategic Air Command

The Man From Laramie

Gary Cooper, 1954:

Vera Cruz

Garden of Evil

Boum sur Paris

1955:

The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) .... Col. Billy Mitchell

... aka One Man Mutiny (UK)

Perhaps Stewart would have been unavailable to work on "Billy Mitchell" in 1955.

Chris

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Yes-I've heard that the Mitchell family preferred James Cagney

Probably more dramatic and close to Mitchell personality--

still at the end when he looks up at the end and sees biplanes which then change

to then the most modern planes (jets)--a reference to the rising of the youngest branch of the armed services--that why I'd prefer J. Stewart.

Still if Stewart couldn't play the role becuase of other movies---it would have

been interesting to see Cagney as Mitchell......Cooper was good as Sgt York

except that the real York had a mustache.......

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Chris has brought up a sensible issue: no matter how ideal we consider an actor or actress for a role, when the occasion turns up he or she may not be available because of other work engagements... and then this is not the whole story, as in the old times stars had long-running contracts (the exceptions being few) and, technically belonged to a film studio, at least throughout the thirties to the early fifties: James Stewart was a MGM actor, James Cagney was under contract to Warner Brothers, Gary Cooper was a Paramount player. So depending on the studio producing a film, one actor or the other wouldn't have a chance because he would be under contract to the competitors.

The facial hair issue summoned by PFF is interesting, as it illustrates the difference between a Film Star and a Character actor (or more plainly put, an actor, ahem)... Gary Cooper didn't wear the moustache required for the role... but then does anybody remember Coop ever a moustache? (not to mean he never did... but do you remember it?) To give the contrary example, Clark Gable had to be convinced to shave his moustache to play Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty, this being the last time he was seen without it: Stars of this type were concerned about the public not recognizing them, as they were, of a sort, playing themselves, or a well-recognized archetype ("Aw Shucks!"). Character actors, on the other hand, have no trouble about looking different: they usually enjoy being someone else :P

Gloria

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Watch "Strategic Air Command" for the real star: colour footage of the Convair B36 Peacemaker nuclear bomber: the largest warplane ever -wingspan greater than a 747; six propellers and four jets; the predecessor to the B52, and probably the most inaptly named aircraft ever. The last shots are of the B47 Stratojet bomber: beautiful but deadly, like my wife.

Adrian

Adrian,

Get a fix on the former USAF Loring AFB in Maine.The airfield has a purpose built hanger to house 6 B36s,two abreast which with a wingspan of 230 feet fits nicely into the hanger width of 660 feet.

Loring was shudown as a USAF base in 1994 after being a long term B52 base on the rundown from the ceasation of the Cold War but the hanger remains and will obvious deteriorate if not maintained.

Regarding the B36,some might say that it was a white elephant .I do not think it dropped a bomb in anger.It first flew in 1946 and last deliveries were made in August 1954 and it was out of front line duty two years later.

However its conception is interesting.It was first envisaged in 1942 when the US were very concerned about the balance of power in Europe.They thought that there may be a possibilty of having to go to war against Germany and in the event of Hitler overruning the whole of Western Europe,they would have to possess a long range bomber to operate against Germany from the US.Hence Convair came up with the B36,an aircraft giving a 10.00 mile range and which initially had 6 piston engines arranged as "pushers".The GE J 47 jets came later which picked up the crusing speed to 290mph but still too low a ceiling to be regarded as anything more than a "sitting duck" to jet engined powered intercepters.

Regards

Frank East

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James Cagney as Billy Mitchell, LOL. "You'll let me bomb dose battleships, see...or I'll, well, I'll blow 'em anyway, see?"

Paul

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"...they would have to possess a long range bomber to operate against Germany from the US."

I believe the year was 1955 when a B-36 on a training flight from Texas had problems with its navigational gear and got lost. It was the middle of the night and the crew, presumably under orders to maintain radio silence, lost altitude slowly through the heavy cloud layers until, finally, they saw open ground below and landed (remarkably) in what they thought were fields. It was Salisbury Plain, only a mile or so from Stonehenge.

I tried hard to think of a link with Billy Mitchell or Gary Cooper, but who cares.

Bruce

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I believe the year was 1955 when a B-36 on a training flight from Texas had problems with its navigational gear and got lost.  It was the middle of the night and the crew, presumably under orders to maintain radio silence, lost altitude slowly through the heavy cloud layers until, finally, they saw open ground below and landed (remarkably) in what they thought were fields.  It was Salisbury Plain, only a mile or so from Stonehenge. 

Not sure about the details - I thought it was a transatlantic flight, but it was covered in one of the aviation mags a few years ago, complete with pictures. Try signing up here and asking if you are interested

http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=4

The pilot landed along the line of the runway lights at Boscombe Down instead of along the runway - the lights being arranged in a funnel shape with the runway at the narrow end, so he crossed diagonally and landed of to one side. Allegedly the pilot radioed the tower and said "Gee your runway's rough!" only to be told he wasn't on it! Incredibly he managed tor un it through fields and farms for nearly a mile before it stopped, with hardly a scratch. However his luck ran out when he got on the phone to HQ...

Adrian

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Adrian, I bow to your superior knowledge. I guess I read the Hollywood version...

Bruce

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Regarding the B36,some might say that it was a white elephant .I do not think it dropped a bomb in anger

Fortunately it never did drop a bomb in anger, otherwise we would be in the Stone Age by now rather than communicating by Broadband. But apparently one captain carried his car in the bomb-bay, and another carried 4000 cases of Scotch.

As to being a white elephant, it was a victim of the very fast pace of aircraft development during and just after WW2, so many piston-engined types were obsolete by the time they entered service.

It is said that the C-in-C of SAC, General Curtis LeMay, allegedly had his own personal bomber (B36, later a B52) fully fuelled and armed with a nuclear payload so he could be first into action WW3 started. He is briefly portrayed, as a decent sort of guy, in the James Stewart film, but rather less sympathetically he was almost certainly the inspiration for the mad generals and "Major Kong" in "Dr. Strangelove"

Adrian

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