Thursday, February 20, 2020

Strategic Air Command on Home Video

As part of a downsizing project eight years ago I purged most of my pre-recorded VHS tape collection. I've never been a big collector of movies -- my DVD library is fairly small -- but the fact is I had accumulated around 70 tapes: 

Strategic Air Command (1955) Shot in VistaVision, and starring Jimmy Stewart, it is very much a film of its time. But, although born during McCarthyism, this picture avoids glorifying "Strategic Air Command" outright. The men and women have a job to do. No serviceman comes across as blood-thirsty or rings in any way of "I wanna get those Russkies". There is a conscience within the film, a quality all but absent in most films of this type produced today.

Mention must be made of Jimmy Stewart's service on bombers during WWII. His piloting of the Convair B-36 and, later in the film, a Boeing B-47 feels right. 

Strategic Air Command is not a great film, I don't think, but it entertains in an almost sombre manner. And the sugar bowl-sweetness between Stewart and onscreen wife June Allyson is not to be missed. The highlights, for aviation fans certainly, are anything involving SAC bombers flying high above the clouds. In particular the B-36 is lovingly photographed as it soars. Victor Young's beautiful score elevates these sequences, making them almost poetic. Now that is something you do not get anymore. (What's a tune?)

I liked Strategic Air Command when I first watched it on late night television in late 1976 and I still like it.


The above piece first appeared as "My VHS Purge: Strategic Air Command" on January 29, 2017.

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