Strategic Air Command (DVD) James Stewart

Strategic Air Command is a 1955 Technicolor American film starring James Stewart and June Allyson, and directed by Anthony Mann. This Paramount Pictures release was the first of four films that depicted the role of the Strategic Air Command in the Cold War era. This would be Stewart and Mann's last collaboration and third of three movies that paired Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, the others being The Stratton Story and The Glenn Miller Story.

James Stewart plays a United States Air Force Reserve officer recalled to active duty to fly B-36 and B-47 nuclear bombers for the Strategic Air Command. The film accurately portrays (from the perspective of the 1951 starting point of the script) the duties and responsibilities of being an Air Force strategic bomber pilot, and the strains such service places on family life.

Stewart's character "Dutch" Holland is a highly paid, star professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals during spring training in St. Petersburg, Florida, when he is recalled to active duty for 21 months. At first, Dutch is a fish out of water, trying to perform duties in a service that has technologically left him far behind since the end of his World War II service as a B-29 pilot. When he reports for duty at Carswell AFB in Ft. Worth, Texas, he has to wear civilian garb because his old uniforms are those of the old U.S. Army Air Forces, much to the displeasure of the irascible General Hawkes, the commander of SAC, played by Frank Lovejoy.

Dutch is given a staff job that involves a lot of flying, soon gains a B-36 crew of his own, and then becomes enamored with both flying and the role of SAC in deterring war. He is joined by his wife Sally (June Allyson), who had not bargained for being an Air Force Wife, and who struggles with his repeated absences and the dangers of flying. Even so, Sally tells Dutch that she is happy as long as they can be together, no matter what he decides to do with his life.

Dutch is injured on duty when he is forced to crash land his B-36 bomber in Greenland. Nevertheless, he becomes a favorite of General Hawkes and is rewarded with a new assignment flying the new B-47 Stratojet at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida, across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg where his old baseball team continues to conduct its spring training. Promoted to full colonel and made deputy commander of his B-47 wing, Dutch decides to Sally's displeasure to remain in the Air Force rather than returning to baseball at the end of his active duty obligation.

On a nonstop flight from MacDill to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, the injury from the B-36 crash proves to be worse than he thought, which not only bars him from further flying (he leaves the Air Force at the end of the film), but also appears to threaten his baseball career, although General Hawkes suggests he would make an excellent team manager.

Some commentators have speculated that the plot was inspired by Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams, a World War II veteran, who was recalled for Korean War service as a Marine Corps aviator, at the height of his baseball career.[1]

The cast also features veteran character actor Harry Morgan (billed as Henry Morgan), later of Colonel Potter fame in the TV series M*A*S*H. Morgan's character, Master Sergeant Bible, was introduced early in the film as an esteemed former crew member (also flight engineer) of Stewart's, who had performed admirably during their last troubled B-29 mission over Tokyo.

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