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Strategic Air Command

Strategic Air Command(1955)

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The working title of this film was Air Command. The film opens with the following written dedication: "America today is watching her skies with grave concern. For in these skies of peace, the nation is building its defense. To the officers and men of the United States Air Force, to The Strategic Air Command, whose cooperation is gratefully acknowledged, and to the young men of America who will one day take their places beside them, this motion picture is dedicated."
       Modern sources state that James Stewart, who, like his character "Dutch," was a World War II bomber pilot and was still active in the Air Force Reserve in the 1950s, achieving the rank of brigadier general in 1959, persuaded Paramount to make a picture about SAC, arguing that it would be patriotic and financially sound. Stewart also convinced the studio to assign Anthony Mann as director, according to modern sources. Hollywood Reporter news items add Maj.-Gen. Frank Armstrong, Jr., Byron Poindexter, George Washburn, Jack Downs, Robert Templeton and Lee Miller to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Studio publicity materials state that the following St. Louis Cardinals and ex-Cardinals played themselves in the picture: Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Peanuts Lowrey and Memo Luna. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed, however.
       According to studio publicity materials, location filming took place at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, and Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, TX, and at Al Lang Field and Plant Stadium in Florida. In its advertising, Paramount claimed that the picture showed "previously secret installations" for the "first time." Strategic Air Command was Paramount's second VistaVision release. According to the Hollywood Reporter review, during a special preview in Omaha, NE, where the film was projected on a 50-by-27 foot curved screen, shots of the B-36 "caught in majestic solitude against the sky...brought awed gasps and wild applause" from the audience. For the New York premiere of the film, held under the auspices of the Air Force Association, Paramount installed a new horizontal VistaVision projector and "the largest motion picture screen in the world," according to a Hollywood Reporter news item.
       The New York premiere was attended by many military and government dignitaries, including Senator H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey and Gen. Thomas D. White, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S.A.F. As noted in a Hollywood Reporter news item, the Air Force Association awarded Paramount its annual Citation of Honor for "distinguished public service" in producing the film. The AFA also bestowed a citation on Stewart, for "distinguished public service and outstanding artistic achievement." According to a late April 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, a five-minute television promotion for the film was broadcast over the CBS regional (West Coast) network, in place of a canceled atomic test. Strategic Air Command was nominated for a Best Writing (Motion Picture Story) Academy Award. Modern sources note that the film was the seventh most profitable release of 1955. Paramount re-issued the picture in late 1961.