Cast & Crew
At the U.S. Air Force Itazuke Air Base in Japan, Gen. Robert E. Hale receives reporter Jane Carter, who is writing a story about the wives of the Air Force pilots who are fighting in the Korean War. Hale and his staff, Lt. Col. Eckert and Sgt. Klinger, are surprised to learn that Jane is married to their wing commander, Col. Gil Manton, as he has never spoken of her. Jane immediately begins her research by waiting at the gate of the debriefing building with the wives anticipating the return of their husbands, who exit the building after completing a mission. Jane's visit is an unwelcome surprise for Gil, who resents that his wife's career takes precedence over their marriage. Bob helps Jane by introducing her to his wife Marge and their young sons, Bobby and Gary. The Hales then host a cocktail party to introduce Jane to the other families, during which Gil reveals he has not seen Jane in two years. Bob, Gil and Eckert leave the party early to discuss the latest findings of a reconaissance mission, which uncovered an enemy airport loaded with planes. Gil conceives of a plan for a coordinated joint strike by three air divisions in order to destroy the enemy airport and its planes. Jane, meanwhile, comments to Marge about how happy everyone seems. Marge advises her that the wives refrain from doing anything to disrupt their husbands' states of mind for fear they will not return from a mission. Gil and Jane move into a house recently occupied by a pilot who lost his life in combat. As they unpack, they argue about Jane's career. The next day, the pilots go on a bombing run while Jane interviews Betty Flanagan, who has just given birth. After Gil lands, Bob informs him that Air Force command has approved his plan and that they will act on it in two days. Later that night, Gil and Jane discuss why they never started a family. Their conversation draws them closer until they are interrupted by the arrival of a telegram addressed to Jane Carter, and Gil grows angry because Jane does not use her married name. The next morning, Bob takes off alone on a reconaissance mission so he can ensure the success of their next attack. While he is away, Marge takes Jane to the commissary where the wives shop. Marge explains that the wives indulge their husbands' appetites because every meal may be their last. Helen Daniel, who is pregnant, has a hysterical outburst due to anxiety about her husband's safety, but she is quickly calmed by Marge. Bob, meanwhile, radios to the base that the anticipated target is incorrect. After relaying the new information, he reports that he is under attack by a MIG formation and then breaks off his transmission. Gil and Eckert reluctantly assume that Bob has been shot down, which leaves Gil in command. Marge receives the news calmly, although she refuses to believe her husband is dead. Witnessing Marge's stoic grief alters Jane's attitude, and she attempts to tell Gil she has reconsidered the importance of her career. However, as he has just received official word of his promotion, he is unable to talk with Jane and arranges for her to leave the base the next day. At dawn, the wives anxiously lie awake in their beds as the fighter wing takes off in their sabre jets. Lt. Bill Crenshaw's wife Susan later visits Jane, and Jane admits that although she had always planned to leave, she now wants to stay with her husband. When the pilots reach the rendezvous point with American planes from other commands, they assist the F-80 jet fighters in protecting the B-29 bombers from enemy attack. The jet pilots continue to fend off enemy attack as the bombers complete their bombing raid. Upon returning to the base, Gil reports that three pilots were shot down, among them Bill and Betty's husband, Bert. As he exits the debriefing, Gil tells Susan about the loss of her husband, and Marge consoles her. Gil is then pleased to discover Jane waiting for him at the gate, and they embrace.
Donald E. Baruch
Herschel Burke Gilbert
Lou La Cava
Jerry Pycha Jr.
Charles Van Enger
Robert Stack, 1919-2003
Stack was born in Los Angeles on January 13, 1919 to a well-to-do family but his parents divorced when he was a year old. At age three, he moved with his mother to Paris, where she studied singing. They returned to Los Angeles when he was seven, by then French was his native language and was not taught English until he started schooling.
Naturally athletic, Stack was still in high school when he became a national skeet-shooting champion and top-flight polo player. He soon was giving lessons on shooting to such top Hollywood luminaries as Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, and found himself on the polo field with some notable movie moguls like Darryl Zanuck and Walter Wanger.
Stack enrolled in the University of Southern California, where he took some drama courses, and was on the Polo team, but it wasn't long before some influential people in the film industry took notice of his classic good looks, and lithe physique. Soon, his Hollywood connections got him on a film set at Paramount, a screen test, and eventually, his first lead in a picture, opposite Deanna Durbin in First Love (1939). Although he was only 20, Stack's natural delivery and boyish charm made him a natural for the screen.
His range grew with some meatier parts in the next few years, especially noteworthy were his roles as the young Nazi sympathizer in Frank Borzage's chilling The Mortal Storm (1940), with James Stewart, and as the Polish flier who woos a married Carole Lombard in Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942).
After serving as a gunnery officer in the Navy during World War II, Stack returned to the screen, and found a few interesting roles over the next ten years: giving Elizabeth Taylor her first screen kiss in Robert Thorp's A Date With Judy (1948); the leading role as an American bullfighter in Budd Boetticher's The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951); and as a pilot in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty (1954), starring John Wayne. However, Stack saved his best dramatic performances for Douglas Sirk in two knockout films: as a self-destructive alcoholic in Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind (1956), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor; and sympathetically portraying a fallen World War I pilot ace who is forced to do barnstorming stunts for mere survival in Tarnished Angels (1958).
Despite proving his capabilities as a solid actor in these roles, front rank stardom oddly eluded Stack at this point. That all changed when Stack gave television a try. The result was the enormously popular series, The Untouchables (1959-63). This exciting crime show about the real-life Prohibition-era crime-fighter Eliot Ness and his G-men taking on the Chicago underworld was successful in its day for several reasons: its catchy theme music, florid violence (which caused quite a sensation in its day), taut narration by Walter Winchell, and of course, Stack's trademark staccato delivery and strong presence. It all proved so popular that the series ran for four years, earned an Emmy for Stack in 1960, and made him a household name.
Stack would return to television in the late '60s, with the The Name of the Game (1968-71), and a string of made-for-television movies throughout the '70s. His career perked up again when Steven Spielberg cast him in his big budget comedy 1941 (1979) as General Joe Stillwell. The film surprised many viewers as few realized Stack was willing to spoof his granite-faced stoicism, but it won him over many new fans, and his dead-pan intensity would be used to perfect comic effect the following year as Captain Rex Kramer (who can forget the sight of him beating up Hare Krishnas at the airport?) in David and Jerry Zucker's wonderful spoof of disaster flicks, Airplane! (1980).
Stack's activity would be sporadic throughout the remainder of his career, but he returned to television, as the host of enormously popular Unsolved Mysteries (1987-2002), and played himself in Lawrence Kasden's comedy-drama Mumford (1999). He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Rosemarie Bowe Stack, a former actress, and two children, Elizabeth and Charles, both of Los Angeles.
by Michael T. Toole
Robert Stack, 1919-2003
The opening credits of the viewed print were incomplete. Production credits were obtained from publicity billing contained in U.S. Copyright records. An insignia reading "Department of the Air Force United States of America" appears before the title, and indicates that the film was made in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force. Opening credits also included the following written foreword: "This picture is dedicated to the Air Force wives who shared their men with a world made desperate by the most brutal aggressor in history." The film was shot on location at Nellis Air Force Base, NV.
Publicity information in copyright records contains the following information about the production: The original story was inspired by a newspaper or magazine article about the wives of U.S. Air Force pilots; U.S. Air Force pilots appear in the film; and the film contains footage of actual Korean War aerial battles. Although Motion Picture Herald lists the release date as September 4, 1953, news items in Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Examiner noted that the film's premiere was on October 23, 1953. Although the film's credits listed Color Corp. of America for color type, various reviews listed Cinecolor Corp., which was the company's original name. Discrepancies are also evident in Hollywood Reporter's reporting of the dates of the production schedule. Although an May 8, 1953 Hollywood Reporter production chart lists the film as having been in production for 13 days, a March 15, 1953 production chart lists that date as the first day of production. The October 24, 1953 Los Angeles Examiner news item noted that the premiere included a ceremony with a U.S. Air Force band and that other members of the military were in attendance.