Dragonfly Squadron


1h 22m 1954

Brief Synopsis

A Korean War film with a secondary plot of the training of South Korean pilots, to fly fighters in air defense, by American Air Force instructors,led by Major Brady, a famed and skilled-but-grounded pilot, assigned to the Kongku base. Once there he meets again Donna Cottrell (Barbara Britton), whom he was about to marry a year ago until she learned that she wasn't the widow she thought she was. Her husband (Bruce Bennett), had been a prisoner and wasn't dead, and showed up before the wedding and more or less put a damper on the whole proceedings. He is the base doctor and also keeps a wary eye on his wife and Brady. Not a bad idea considering the short period of grief she went through, after being informed he was dead, before heading for the altar with Brady. But Bruce Bennet, as was par for the course for characters Bennett usually played, does the right thing and gets himself blown up by an enemy bomb (and is certified real dead this time), thereby ensuring the two top-billed players will end up together.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 21, 1954
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 27 Jan 1954
Production Company
Allied Artists Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Chatsworth, California, United States; Chatsworth, Iverson's Ranch, California, United States; Chatsworth--Iverson Ranch, California, United States; Chatsworth--Iverson's Ranch, California, United States; Iverson's Ranch, Chatsworth, California, United States; Warner Hot Springs, California, United States; Whiteman Air Park, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

In May of 1950, Maj. Mathew "Matt" Brady, who has been grounded for two years, is sent to Pusan, South Korea and assigned to train several South Korean pilots to provide air cover in case it proves necessary to evacuate American nationals in the event of a North Korean attack. In Pusan, Col. Wolf Schuller arranges for Matt and operations officer Capt. MacIntyre to travel to the airfield in Kungju. Before Matt leaves, a reporter named Dixon asks him why he has been grounded and alludes to Matt's relationship with another man's wife. Upon reaching Kungju, Matt explains to his American crew that they have only twenty-five days to familiarize the South Korean pilots with the American planes. In Kungju, Matt meets Donna Cottrell with whom he had a romance when it was thought that her husband, Red Cross doctor Stephen Cottrell, had been killed in Indo-China. When Donna found out later that Stephen was alive, she returned to him. Donna tells Matt that Stephen was a fine surgeon, but can no longer perform surgery as his fingers were badly burned during the torture he endured during his imprisonment before escaping from Indo-China. The South Korean pilots learn the airplanes' instrument panels and soon the first pilot is in the air. Capt. Veddors tells Dixon, who is covering the training, that Matt was grounded because he was involved in a crash in which a test pilot was killed. At a dinner party, Matt meets Stephen and Donna, who are then called away to the hospital, where Donna stays all night with a patient. On her way home in the morning, Donna encounters Matt, who tells her that he is beginning to admire her husband. Donna, who still feels attracted to Matt, says that she wants to do what is right, but then kisses him. Later, Matt receives a coded message indicating an imminent attack from the North, and ordering him to complete the flight training on schedule and to prepare for possible evacuation. Soon after, MacIntyre tells Matt that Lt. Kim-Sin, one of his trainees, should not be flying as he has been AWOL and is distracted by his sister's ill health. After Lt. Kim-Sin dies in his plane's crash, many of the Korean and American personnel blame Matt for not grounding him, until MacIntyre proves that the plane was sabotaged. Afterward, Col. Schuller arrives to advise Matt that the South Korean pilots will be leaving immediately for active duty and to order the evacuation of all American civilian and military personnel. Stephen elects to remain in Kungju to continue his work with the South Koreans, but Donna leaves in a truck convoy, which soon comes under heavy fire from two tanks. Later, Col. Conners arrives to warn Matt that although no air support will be coming, an infantry battalion is on its way there to help defend the airfield in the event that the United Nations sanctions U.S. intervention in the war. Although Matt is expected to leave immediately with most of the flight instructors, he decides to remain behind with MacIntyre and Veddors. After Matt receives a message that the invasion has begun, Capt. Warnowski and his infantry battalion reach the airfield. Heavy fire from a column of tanks has devastated their ranks, and consequently Warnowski has only thirty men left out of four hundred. With them is Donna's driver, Capt. Wyler, whom they found wounded by the roadside. Before dying, Wyler tells Matt that Donna managed to escape. Unable to hold the airfield against a rapidly advancing tank column, Matt and Warnowski decide to leave when, suddenly, enemy planes score direct hits on the field, causing great damage. When the South Koreans discover that an old woman has been operating as a spy, radioing information about the field to the North, they execute her. As Matt and the others attempt to leave, they come under heavy fire from the tanks and in the melee, Veddors is killed and Matt is wounded in the arm. Eventually, they reach the small village of Chungtu where Matt recovers in a Red Cross hospital. When Donna reaches the hospital, she learns that Stephen has been killed. As more enemy tanks approach, everyone is forced to evacuate once again. As their convoy is fired upon and it appears likely that the tanks will soon overtake them, four U.S. Air Force planes strafe the tanks, stopping them, thus allowing Matt, Donna and the convoy to escape.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 21, 1954
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 27 Jan 1954
Production Company
Allied Artists Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Chatsworth, California, United States; Chatsworth, Iverson's Ranch, California, United States; Chatsworth--Iverson Ranch, California, United States; Chatsworth--Iverson's Ranch, California, United States; Iverson's Ranch, Chatsworth, California, United States; Warner Hot Springs, California, United States; Whiteman Air Park, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Filmed, but not relased, in 3-D.

Notes

       The film's opening titles include the following statements: "We gratefully acknowledge the kind cooperation of the United States Department of Defense, the United States Air Force, and the United States Marine Corps in making possible the production of this picture." "Dedicated to those American officers and men who served with, and so gallantly trained, the South Korean Army and Air Force."
       John Champion's onscreen credit reads: "Written and Produced by John Champion." Publicity materials for this film state that it was filmed at Warner Hot Springs, Whiteman Air Park and Iverson Ranch near Chatsworth, CA. Although a Daily Variety news item of December 14, 1953 reported that a 3-D release of Dragonfly Squadron would be tested during four bookings early in 1954, it has not been established that the film played any 3-D engagements. Its Los Angeles opening in January 1954 was in a "flat" version. The film's technical advisor, Col. Dean Hess, was portrayed by Rock Hudson in Universal's 1957 film Battle Hymn. A August 2, 1967 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Champion owned this film outright and that it had cost $300,000 to produce and had grossed $700,000.