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Lieutenant (O-3) of the United States Navy, Harry Brubaker (W. Holden) is a pilot who fought during WW2, went back to his civilian job as an attorney, and is now further engaged in the Korean War flying jet planes from carriers. The film starts with him returning from a mission while his plane has to ditch into the cold sea. The rescue helicopter flown by the faithful and eccentric Chief Mike Forney (Mickey Rooney), a man of Irish descent, saves him, with his crewman Nestor Gamidge (Earl Holliman) actually jumping into the freezing water to hook Brubaker to the rescue harness. The Admiral of the ship, Adm. George Tarrant, has lost his own son in WW2 and Brubaker’s manner and bearing brings back memories of his lost son. While talking to Brubaker the Admiral finds the pilot is tired of the war and just wants to return to civilian life to be with his family and the legal career he left behind. Nevertheless, they both agree that someone has to fight the war in which their country is involved and the necessity of seeing this war through to its conclusion. The new mission is set and the target is the group of the bridges over the Yalu river over which communist forces infiltrate into Korea. Commander Wayne Lee, the Commander of the Air Group ("CAG") is a man dedicated to his men but Tarrant would rather see him more dedicated to his mission. After an incident he decides not to promote Lee for this reason. Brubaker is told that his wife Nancy and children arrived in Tokyo on an unexpected visit and he is given a 3 days leave to see them. Their reunion is interrupted when Nestor shows up at their hotel asking Brubaker's help in bailing Forney out of the guardhouse after a brawl with another sailor for whom his girlfriend had left him. Nancy is more than ever anxious to see her husband back home but is terrified to discover the signs of a man ready to crack from war fatigue. Nancy is deep into blue thoughts about been left a widow and Tarrant will try to support her although he too remembers how his daughter-in-law had almost turned insane after losing her husband, Tarrant's son.

Back to the carrier, Lee presents to his pilots the air photos taken from a low pass over Toko-Ri. The flak is extremely dense and the pilots have to fly very low into the banks of the river while receiving fire from all sides. Brubaker gets sick after this briefing and he thinks his days are numbered. He is ready to write a letter to Nancy pre-announcing his death. Lee visits him into his room and tries to boost the morale asking him to be left behind if he feels he cannot accomplish his mission. Brubaker replies that he will do his duty. During the day of the attack Lee strikes with two formations the second one led by Brubaker. The results from the first attack are considered incomplete and he then orders the secondary one with Brubaker to attack. Brubaker's team dashes low and bombs successfully the ammunition dump but his plane receives a small hit that creates a fuel leak. Lee escorts closely Brubaker guiding him on the way back to the carrier but the fuel lost will not allow Brubaker to overcome the last hill before the sea and he belly-lands on these hills. The rescue helicopter and his faithful friends Mike and Nestor land close to pick him up but Chinese ground troops arrive and machine gun the helicopter, killing Nestor. Both Mike and Brubaker try to hide in a small nearby ditch to defend themselves with carbines but are outnumbered and are both killed. Surprisingly enough, Brubaker's hair remains perfectly styled the entire time. Admiral Tarrant is shattered by the news and asks Lee for explanations. He replies that what counts is the success of the mission and not the men who were killed. Tarrant full of sorrow has to accept that Lee has ‘matured’, accepts his promotion finally and the film ends with Tarrant alone wondering where Brubaker and all the others dead or alive could have found the guts to do what is asked from them in such a war.

Starring ... William Holden, Grace Kelly, Frederic March, Mickey Rooney

Director: Mark Robson

Producers: William Perlberg & George Seaton


Year Released - 1953

Length - 102 minutes

Music Composer: Lyn Murray

Movie Distributed by Paramount Pictures



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