Without sounding like some "tech-head" and quoting all sorts of technicaljargon, I've just got to say, that one of the main reasons for enjoyingthisCold War pic is the sheer visual impact. The flight sequence where Dutchissent out in a Peacemaker is incredible. The color, clouds, and air-to-airphotography is stunning. My one thought through the movie was, "What ashamethe Steady-cam wasn't around."One of the classic film cable channels has been showing what appears to beawell restored print, and I wonder if a DVD version will be avaliable, atsome date.And, if you are a plane fan, seeing a B-36 in motion is impressive, too.It's something to see a flight deck that has no computer, digital display,ot high tech flight control. Dials! Propellers! Incredible!And yes, being a car fan, too, I got a big charge out of thispicture.This is a great rainy/snowy/stay inside Sunday afternoon movie. Grab adrink, pop some popcorn, turn off the current world, and set "The Way-BackMachine" to the early 50's when the BAD GUY was a Bear, and the world was asafer place.
"Strategic Air Command" is a look at the 1950's, when the needs of the ColdWar caused America to begin rearming after having nearly disarmed itselffollowing World War II. With his trademark sincerity, James Stewart plays Lt. Col. Holland, a formerAir Force officer and now ballplayer who is recalled to duty as the newStrategic Air Command expands its might. June Allyson plays Sally, hisdevoted wife. Together they and the other families of SAC have to cope withthe strains that SAC missions put on their personal lives. The stresses that SAC duty put on families is true enough. But as moviedrama it's all written in a way that's utterly trite and predictable. Youcan practically guess in advance the main set-pieces: Sally is going tobecome pregnant and have to deal with it without her husband around, Hollandis going to get into some life-threatening situations and be thinking of hiswife all the while, but he'll be rescued in the end, and soon.What nearly makes up for a trite plot, however, is the spectacular aerialphotography of the two "actors" that truly steal the show: SAC's B-36Peacemaker bomber, and its state-of-the-art (at the time!) medium jetbomber, the B-47. The B-36, a huge flying battleship with six prop enginesplus four jet engines, and a crew of maybe 15, is beautifully photographedin flight, with an accompanying musical score. For today's youngergeneration who are used to today's ultra-modern planes, the movie is worthseeing for its loving last look at a generation of impressive aircraft thatnever saw combat, and hence aren't as well known as both their predecessorsand successors that did serve in war.
I have some comments about one comment concerning the movie. First off,no one saw that movie at a SAC base theater. It was banned, and forgood reason. The movie portrayed very accurately all the hours that SACpilots and crewmen spent away from their spouses and family. Itimplicated the extreme dangers of technologies for strategic warfarethat were ever changing and never proved out till some Air Force pilotactually got out and flew those new planes. You can read online aboutthe prop reverse and engine overheat problems that caused fatalcrashes. To say that the movie was written, acted, and directed poorlyis an unfair assessment. When that movie was created, it was done aswell as any other of the times. That any one would even consider makingthat movie deserves some admiration. I was a SAC brat during thoseyears, and I can tell you that the public was well served by the movie.I lived in Louisiana just due east of Carswell AFB and saw and heardthose huge planes flying over. The china in our cupboards would rattle!The only part of the movie that I thought was unrealistic is when thebomber crashed near Greenland. Judging by the terrain that was underthe plane, it would have been impossible for that plane to survive tothe extent that it did. It's a movie! The B-36 was an immense airplane.It was the only bomber at the time that could fly a long distance witha nuclear weapon. The B-47 was a medium range bomber and couldn't carrythe weight of the largest(read big and heavy)weapons of the day. Thereare parts of a B-36 in the side of Franklin Mountain in El Paso Texaswhere there was a B-36 wing. I lived at Walker AFB here in NM whichalso had the B-36. Well those are my comments. Thank you for allowingme to post them. Fine page!
Jimmy Stewart was, in real life, a Brigadier General in the UnitedStates Air Force and a distinguished combat (bomber) pilot of WWII. Heplayed the part of "Dutch" Holland realistically because he had livedthe Air Force life and knew all the intimate details. In the days whenthe Soviet Bear was a genuine menace and America's populace wasHell-bent on sticking it's collective head in the sand, men and womenlike these served in the now-long-gone Strategic Air Command, theGuardian of our severely depleted post-WWII air armada. Wonderfullyphotographed and skillfully recreated, Strategic Air Command portraysan honest,almost-documentary,image of the rebuilding of America's AirForce which prevented WW-III! It is still very popular in TV reruns dueto the fact that America loves hero's and Peace! Remember, the SACmotto was "Peace is Our Profession!" For those of us who served in SAC,this movie stands as a memorial and testimonial to our work and ourlove of country! Thanks,Jimmy!
One of the parts of the James Stewart legacy is his love of flight.According to biographers something that developed with him while he wasstill a kid. When Stewart became the first Hollywood star to enlist inthe Armed Forces in World War II it was natural that he went into theArmy Air Corps. He kept his reserve commission status, transferring itto new formed Air Force. Stewart was a great believer in the mission of the Air Force andspecifically the mission of the Strategic Air Command which maintaineda 24 hour combat ready status in those early days of the Cold War. Sohe did this film to help popularize the new service and to acquaint thepublic with the mission of the Strategic Air Command.This is probably the weakest of the eight Stewart/Anthony Manncollaborations. It is technically fine film and airplane enthusiastswill love the flight scenes. Problem is that the film is dull, not bad, but dull. There just isn'tmuch entertainment value in the story of guys sitting around waitingfor the Russians to turn the Cold War hot. The only moment whenStrategic Air Command comes alive is when Stewart is forced to crashland and is stranded for a while. John Wayne did a most entertainingfilm, Island in the Sky, about such an incident. Unfortunately this wasonly part of the story.John Wayne also did Jet Pilot which was a ridiculous film about the AirForce and Strategic Air Command doesn't sink to that level.The only time boredom was ever successfully translated to the cinemawas in Mister Roberts. This ain't no Mister Roberts.June Allyson the same year played almost an identical role as AlanLadd's wife in The McConnell Story. The McConnell Story was and is toosaccharine, but at least the people were real and you did care aboutthem. Stewart is a World War II veteran and now third baseman for theSt. Louis Cardinals and is recalled to the service because they needtop pilots for SAC. He and Allyson are not really people you get tocare about here.Frank Lovejoy does a very good job as General Hawks the head of SAC,right down to his cigars which Curtis LeMay was known for. The othercast members look quite natural in the military setting.Fans of aviation and of Jimmy Stewart should love this film. But Idon't think it had much of a broader appeal.