Strategic Air Command An ex-pilot and current baseballer is recalled into the U.S. Air Force and assumes an increasingly important role in Cold War deterrence.
The aircraft steal the show
Strategic Air Command is a look at the 1950’s, when the needs of the Cold War caused America to begin rearming after having nearly disarmed itself following World War II.
With his trademark sincerity, James Stewart plays Lt. Col. Holland, a former Air Force officer and now ballplayer who is recalled to duty as the new Strategic Air Command expands its might. June Allyson plays Sally, his devoted wife. Together they and the other families of SAC have to cope with the strains that SAC missions put on their personal lives.
The stresses that SAC duty put on families is true enough. But as movie drama it’s all written in a way that’s utterly trite and predictable. You can practically guess in advance the main set-pieces: Sally is going to become pregnant and have to deal with it without her husband around, Holland is going to get into some life-threatening situations and be thinking of his wife all the while, but he’ll be rescued in the end, and so on.
What nearly makes up for a trite plot, however, is the spectacular aerial photography of the two “actors” that truly steal the show: SAC’s B-36 Peacemaker bomber, and its state-of-the-art (at the time!) medium jet bomber, the B-47. The B-36, a huge flying battleship with six prop engines plus four jet engines, and a crew of maybe 15, is beautifully photographed in flight, with an accompanying musical score. For today’s younger generation who are used to today’s ultra-modern planes, the movie is worth seeing for its loving last look at a generation of impressive aircraft that never saw combat, and hence aren’t as well known as both their predecessors and successors that did serve in war.