Command Decision


1h 52m 1949
Command Decision

Brief Synopsis

A senior officer faces the horror of sending his men on suicide missions over Germany during the last days of World War II.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 1949
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1948
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Command Decision by William Wister Haines, as produced by Kermit Bloomgarden (New York, 1 Oct 1947).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

In 1943, at a meeting of the Ministry of Information in London, Major General Roland Goodlow Kane of the U.S. Army Air Corps is troubled by news of heavy losses incurred by his subordinate, Brigadier General K. C. "Casey" Dennis, the commander of the American Bombardment Division in England. After two solid days of bombing, during which Casey has ordered his pilots beyond the limits of the defense line of the fighter planes, forty-eight planes have been downed, a record loss. Kane fears that the massive casualties will provoke the congressmen of the Military Affairs Committee, who are scheduled to visit the division, to sharply curtail funding and thus endanger the very existence of the Army Air Corps, which Kane has fought hard to build. Consequently, Kane wires Casey to maintain a low loss quotient during the congressmen's visit. When Kane's message is followed by the news that Brigadier General Clifton I. Garnet is arriving that afternoon, war correspondent Elmer "Brocky" Brockhurst assumes that Cliff has been sent to relieve Casey of his command. Casey's determination to complete "Operation Stitch" at any cost rankles Capt. Lucius Malcolm Jenks, a pilot who also happens to be the nephew of Military Affairs Committee member Congressman Arthur Malcolm, and so Jenks breaks rank and defies Casey's orders. Jenks's outburst is followed by the arrival of Kane and Cliff. When Casey reports that he has scheduled another massive bombing mission for that day, Kane, alarmed, cancels the visit from the Congressional Committee and orders a security blackout. Accused by Kane of overstepping his command, Casey defends himself by displaying the model of a new German jet bomber that will render the Allied forces defenseless. Casey explains that Operation Stitch was designed to obliterate plants that manufacture the Nazi jets, but that weather conditions dictate that the mission must be completed in three days, before the cloud cover moves in. When Kane learns that the day's raid on the Schweinhofen plant has resulted in the lost of 290 planes and 520 men, he becomes furious that Casey approved such a drastic operation before the meeting of the Armed Forces Allocation Committee. Upon returning from the raid, Colonel Edward "Ted" Rayton Martin, the squadron leader, as well as Casey's close friend and Cliff's brother-in-law, reports that they missed Schweinhofen and bombed a torpedo plant instead. Fearing that Kane will cancel the mission if he learns of the mistake, Ted advises Casey to lie, but the honor bound Casey tells Kane the truth. Pressured by the enormous losses and the day's failure, Kane denies permission for a third day of bombing. When Brocky senses that the officers are not telling him the full story, Kane shows him the secret memorandum on the mission and asks for his support. Although Major Desmond Lansing, a civilian advisor and former World War I officer, agrees with Casey's position, Kane remains unconvinced. Notified that only two more days of clear skies remain, Casey fervently defends the strategic importance of Operation Stitch. Later, in private, Kane confides to Casey that the mission may not only threaten his commission but the very existence of the Air Corps, then reluctantly green lights it. Soon after, the Congressional Committee arrives unexpectedly, causing Kane to cancel the mission. When, to appease the querulous Malcolm, Kane proposes awarding Jenks a medal, Casey coolly informs his superior that he has confined Jenks to his quarters for insubordination and will charge him with desertion unless Kane allows the pilots to complete their mission at Schweinhofen the next day. Kane finally relents, and Brocky, overhearing his orders, writes a stirring story about the undertaking. The next morning, as Ted takes to the skies to lead his men on their perilous journey, word comes that his wife has just given birth to a boy. Later, at the ceremony planned to honor Jenks and appease Malcolm, news comes that the mission has been successful, but at the cost of Ted's life. Malcolm reacts insensitively to Ted's loss, but Jenks refuses the medal and runs from the room. Shaken, Casey excuses himself and seeks solitude in the War room. With only one day remaining to complete the operation, Kane relieves Casey of his command and appoints Cliff in his place. After deliberating for several excruciating hours, Cliff realizes that Casey detested making decisions that would result in life or death, and then gives the order to compete Casey's objective and attack the last target of Operation Stitch. As Casey prepares to fly home and console Ted's widow, he is notified that he has been appointed to a B-29 command, a high military honor.

Cast

Clark Gable

Brigadier General K. C. "Casey" Dennis

Walter Pidgeon

Major General Roland Goodlow Kane

Van Johnson

Technical Sergeant Immanuel T. Evans

Brian Donlevy

Brigadier General Clifton I. Garnet

Charles Bickford

Elmer ["Brocky"] Brockhurst

John Hodiak

Colonel Edward Rayton Martin

Edward Arnold

Congressman Arthur Malcolm

Marshall Thompson

Captain George Washington Bellpepper Lee

Richard Quine

Major George Rockton

Cameron Mitchell

Lieutenant Ansel Goldberg

Clinton Sundberg

Major Homer V. Prescott

Ray Collins

Major Desmond Lansing

Warner Anderson

Colonel Earnet Haley

John Mcintire

Major Belding David

Moroni Olsen

Congressman Stone

John Ridgely

James Carwood

Michael Steele

Captain Lucius Malcolm Jenks

Edward Earle

Congressman Watson

Mack Williams

Lieutenant Colonel Virgil Jackson

James Millican

Major Garrett Davenport

Wilson Wood

Photographer

Arthur Walsh

Photographer

J. Lewis Smith

Photographer

William Leicester

Parker, the chauffeur

Henry Hall

Congressman

Sam Flint

Congressman

William Cabanne

Flyer

William Neff

Flyer

Dennis Dengate

Flyer

Fred Datig Jr.

Flyer

Clarke Hardwicke

Flyer

Johnny Michaels

Flyer

Bill Murphy

Flyer

Don Garner

Flyer

Jimmy Zaner

Flyer

Buddy Swan

Flyer

Martin Lamont

R.A.F. Officer

Holmes Herbert

Chairman

Bill Mcivor

Jeep driver

William "bill" Phillips

Jeep driver

Robin Short

Guard

Gregg Barton

Sergeant

Alvin Hammer

Sergeant Cahill

Don Haggerty

Command officer

Bruce Cowling

Operations officer

Ray Barons

Loud speaker voice

Barry Nelson

Loud speaker voice

David Holt

Voice of Lt. Nelson

Jimmy Horne Jr.

Young officer

George Backus

Cook

Jr. George Offerman

G.I. waiter

Douglas Walton

English voice

Pete Martin

Command sergeant

Stephen Wayne

Command sergeant

William Tannen

Officer

John James

Officer

Robert Cunningham

Officer

Lane Allan

Officer

John Cannon

Officer

William Lechner

Operations sergeant

James Dale

Operations sergeant

Harlan Warde

Control officer

Robert Manning

Control sergeant

John Mcguire

Fly control officer

Joel Allen

Lieutenant colonel

Tay Dunn

Major

Russell Hoyt

Officer in tower

Glenn Mullen

Officer in tower

Tony Shay

Officer in tower

Robin Hughes

R.A.F. Officer in mess hall

Tom Handley

Correspondent in military

Campbell Copelin

Correspondent in military

Frank Scannell

Correspondent in military

George Melford

Correspondent in military

Bert Davidson

Correspondent in military

Colin Kenny

Man in elevator

David Newell

Staff officer in Ministry

Carey Harrison

Staff officer in Ministry

Frank Mayo

Staff officer in Ministry

William Nind

Staff officer in Ministry

Howard Mitchell

Staff officer in Ministry

Bob Milton

Jack Bonigul

Photo Collections

Command Decision - Publicity Stills
Here are a few stills taken to help publicize MGM's Command Decision (1948), starring Clark Gable, Van Johnson, and Walter Pidgeon. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 1949
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1948
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Command Decision by William Wister Haines, as produced by Kermit Bloomgarden (New York, 1 Oct 1947).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Command Decision


The Axis Powers had been routed. World War II had been won. Coming off such an emotional and physical release from VE-Day and VJ-Day, Americans were ready for the inevitable postwar peace and prosperity. Hollywood, meanwhile, still had a ton of war-related projects that were already committed to production, such as They Were Expendable, released in December 1945. Other postwar films that dealt with WWII did so only in terms of returning servicemen such as the Best Picture winner of 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives, which focused on the problems the returning soldiers experienced on the home front. Nevertheless, there were a number of postwar films that took place on the field of battle, and one of the best was Command Decision (1948), starring Clark Gable, who was now a WWII veteran himself.

Based on a play by William Wister Haines, Command Decision is an intriguing look at the hard decisions commanders have to make that often result in the unavoidable deaths of brave American soldiers. The mission in question in Command Decision is very similar to "Black Thursday," a raid on German factories that occurred on October 14, 1943 and resulted in the loss of over 600 men. Gable had plenty of experience to bring to his role as the hard-nosed commander. He joined the Air Force in 1942, shortly after his wife, the lovely comedienne Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash. Like other stars that enlisted in the war, men like Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Robert Taylor, Gable excelled outside the comforts of Hollywood. He quickly rose in rank from lieutenant to major and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for flying several bombing missions over Germany.

Director: Sam Wood
Producer: Sidney Franklin,
Screenplay: George Froeschel, William Wister Haines, William R. Laidlaw
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Editor: Harold F. Kress
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Cast: Clark Gable (Brig. General K.C. "Casey" Dennis), Walter Pidgeon (Maj. Gen. Roland Goodlaw Kane), Van Johnson (Technical Sergeant Immanuel T. Evans), Brian Donlevy (Brig. Gen. Clifton I. Garnet), Charles Bickford (Elmer Brockhurst).
BW-112m. Close captioning.

by Scott McGee
Command Decision

Command Decision

The Axis Powers had been routed. World War II had been won. Coming off such an emotional and physical release from VE-Day and VJ-Day, Americans were ready for the inevitable postwar peace and prosperity. Hollywood, meanwhile, still had a ton of war-related projects that were already committed to production, such as They Were Expendable, released in December 1945. Other postwar films that dealt with WWII did so only in terms of returning servicemen such as the Best Picture winner of 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives, which focused on the problems the returning soldiers experienced on the home front. Nevertheless, there were a number of postwar films that took place on the field of battle, and one of the best was Command Decision (1948), starring Clark Gable, who was now a WWII veteran himself. Based on a play by William Wister Haines, Command Decision is an intriguing look at the hard decisions commanders have to make that often result in the unavoidable deaths of brave American soldiers. The mission in question in Command Decision is very similar to "Black Thursday," a raid on German factories that occurred on October 14, 1943 and resulted in the loss of over 600 men. Gable had plenty of experience to bring to his role as the hard-nosed commander. He joined the Air Force in 1942, shortly after his wife, the lovely comedienne Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash. Like other stars that enlisted in the war, men like Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Robert Taylor, Gable excelled outside the comforts of Hollywood. He quickly rose in rank from lieutenant to major and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for flying several bombing missions over Germany. Director: Sam Wood Producer: Sidney Franklin, Screenplay: George Froeschel, William Wister Haines, William R. Laidlaw Cinematography: Harold Rosson Editor: Harold F. Kress Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary Music: Miklos Rozsa Cast: Clark Gable (Brig. General K.C. "Casey" Dennis), Walter Pidgeon (Maj. Gen. Roland Goodlaw Kane), Van Johnson (Technical Sergeant Immanuel T. Evans), Brian Donlevy (Brig. Gen. Clifton I. Garnet), Charles Bickford (Elmer Brockhurst). BW-112m. Close captioning. by Scott McGee

Quotes

Trivia

Clark Gable had an officer's commission of Major in the Army Air Corps during WWII.

'Mitchell, Cameron' , who plays bombardier Lieutenant Ansel Goldberg, actually was a bombardier during WWII.

Notes

The film's producing credits read: "Produced by Sidney Franklin in Association with Gottfried Reinhardt." According to an April 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item, Clark Gable urged M-G-M to buy William Wister Haines's novel Command Decision (Boston, 1947) as a starring vehicle for himself in the role of "General Casey Dennis." A May 1947 New York Times news item notes that according to the terms of Haines's deal with M-G-M, the author would receive $100,000 as a down payment for his novel. If the novel was produced as a play by October 1947, however, Haines would be awarded fifteen percent of the weekly stage gross, thus raising his payment to $300,000. The play opened on Broadway on October 1, 1947. According to an April 1947 Los Angeles Times news item, Robert Taylor was originally slated to star with Gable. An April 1948 M-G-M News item notes that Tom Drake was to play the role of "Captain Tom Jenks," the young pilot who defies Casey's orders. By May 1948, an M-G-M News press release stated that Michael Steele was to play the pilot, who was now named "Lucius Jenks." According to a February 17, 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, the Washington, D.C., premiere of the film was attended by Vice President Barkley, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, the Air Force Chief of Staff and several other dignitaries. An August 1949 Los Angeles Times news item reported that a British reviewer for the Reynolds News Service called the film an "insult to British audiences" and complained that it gave the impression that Americans won the war by precision bombing. On March 3, 1949, Gable recorded a radio version of the story for broadcast over the NBC network. This was the first pre-recorded commercial show to be broadcast over the network from Hollywood, acccording to a February 1949 Daily Variety news item.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter February 1949

Released in United States Winter February 1949