A Gathering of Eagles (1963)

DELBERT MANN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B.  USA, 1963.  .  Story by , Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Sy Bartlett.  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1963.  

You know a movie isn’t going to be very exciting when it spends most of its time waiting for an internal quality test.  barely registers a performance as a pilot for the Strategic Air Command who is given a “wing” to be in charge of and takes the job seriously to the point of near tyrannical obsession.  His predecessor, he determines, was too easy on the staff of military pilots whose job is to be at the constant ready for attack, prompting him to stop at nothing to bring them to total readiness even if it means firing his closest friends in the unit.  His desire to do a good job actually brings a kind of madness upon him that alienates not only his friends (including  as his second in command) but makes home life with wife hell to bear.  It’s a remarkably boring movie that is capped off by flag-waving worship of military might and patriarchy that totally negates whatever exploration it meant to make of both Cold War paranoia and masculine obsession, featuring far too many conversations about readiness and very little actual action.  The one sequence that actually raises your pulse, the spilling of gasoline during a mid-air refueling, happens too soon in the story and makes everything that follows it that much more limp, while Hudson shows his limitations as an actor in a role that requires levels of internal conflict that he simply cannot portray.

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