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March War Movie Leadership: Twelve O'Clock High

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  • March War Movie Leadership: Twelve O'Clock High



    MARCH WATCHALONG: Twelve O'Clock High

    1. Was Maj. Gen. Pritchard right to relieve Davenport?

    2. Describe Savage's leadership philosophy and style.

    3. Was Savage right in the way he handled the unit?

  • #2
    Originally posted by warmoviebuff View Post


    MARCH WATCHALONG: Twelve O'Clock High

    1. Was Maj. Gen. Pritchard right to relieve Davenport?

    2. Describe Savage's leadership philosophy and style.

    3. Was Savage right in the way he handled the unit?
    1. Yes. Keith Davenport had become too close to the men in his group.

    2. I'll have to get back to this when I have more time.

    3. Yes... He broke the men down to build them back up. Unfortunately, he broke himself down in the process.

    The movie did a great job of depicting what must have been unimaginable stress levels. Great cast, especially Dean Jagger as the group adjutant Lt. Col. Stovall.
    Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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    • #3
      It has to be "yes" on all counts.

      In my time in the Australian Army Reserve ,two films were shown with monotonous regularity on the subject of "LEADERSHIP", one was Zulu, the other, Twelve O'Clock High.. (To the extent that I can repeat the dialogue from both films by heart!)

      So the film has an official blessing.
      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post

        So the film has an official blessing.
        While you are correct that the film has official blessing, and it did depict some of the severe stresses that the leadership of the Eighth Air Force were subjected to in learning their war by trial and error with all of its incumbent costs, the Air Force did publicly state for the record that while the film was an accurate portrayal of the problems associated with what they had to do, no wing commander ever suffered a mental breakdown from those stresses such as the one depicted in the film.

        Just thought I would add that as it was in the film commentary.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Miss Saigon View Post
          While you are correct that the film has official blessing, and it did depict some of the severe stresses that the leadership of the Eighth Air Force were subjected to in learning their war by trial and error with all of its incumbent costs, the Air Force did publicly state for the record that while the film was an accurate portrayal of the problems associated with what they had to do, no wing commander ever suffered a mental breakdown from those stresses such as the one depicted in the film.

          Just thought I would add that as it was in the film commentary.
          The senior leadership of the Army Air Force during WW2 were known for being hardened to death and high casualties. This was due to their "coming up" in a field that, at the time was highly experimental. Just flying in it self was still very dangerous. Death was an almost daily occurrence even in peace time.

          This would somewhat explain the commands callous attitude toward crew casualties and the willingness to view civilians as legitimate bombing targets.
          "The blade itself incites to deeds of violence".

          Homer


          BoRG

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          • #6
            An excellent film and one of my favorites. I particularly like the transitional beginning from the field to the airstrip.

            Not a lot was known about things like PTSD in those days. The British, bless their hearts, labeled anyone who broke under the strain as a coward - LMF in large letters across their personnel file, which stood for Lack of Moral Fiber.

            but this was an all-out war in which the rules were constantly evolving, and the casualties, and the strains, were enormous.

            IIRC, Peck ends up becoming too concerned for the welfare of his men just as his predecessor did, and finally cracks, unable to even climb into his aircraft.

            Of course, one must always remember when evaluating "leadership" qualities shown in films that this is a Hollywood construct designed to present a dilemna in a specific way.
            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
              An excellent film and one of my favorites. I particularly like the transitional beginning from the field to the airstrip.

              Not a lot was known about things like PTSD in those days. The British, bless their hearts, labeled anyone who broke under the strain as a coward - LMF in large letters across their personnel file, which stood for Lack of Moral Fiber.

              but this was an all-out war in which the rules were constantly evolving, and the casualties, and the strains, were enormous.

              IIRC, Peck ends up becoming too concerned for the welfare of his men just as his predecessor did, and finally cracks, unable to even climb into his aircraft.

              Of course, one must always remember when evaluating "leadership" qualities shown in films that this is a Hollywood construct designed to present a dilemna in a specific way.
              A construct it may have been but that doesn't invalid the essential theme.
              "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
              Samuel Johnson.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                A construct it may have been but that doesn't invalid the essential theme.
                You mean the theme concocted by Hollywood to begin with?

                The film was excellent, but flawed in it's presentation. Peck failed in his duties because he could not maintain the standards any more than the man he relieved; in fact, he suffered even worse with a complete physical and mental breakdown.

                The facts about combat stresses in WWII were somewhat different. Peck would never have been allowed to remain in combat from the moment he showed signs of getting into the same difficulties as his predecessor.

                Superiors were not nearly as user friendly as they are these days, and nobody cared about mental trauma at all, it being considered part of being a soldier. Soldiers were supposed to suck it up and drive on at all costs.

                Hollywood put together a morality story based very loosely on combat stresses among air crew, but it's still a Hollywood production.

                My father survived the hell of OMAHA Beach, and no ne gave a damn how he felt abut what he had seen or suffered in the process. He was expected to soldier on and continue to perform his duties to the highest standard. That was the reality of combat stress in WWII.


                Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                  You mean the theme concocted by Hollywood to begin with?

                  The film was excellent, but flawed in it's presentation. Peck failed in his duties because he could not maintain the standards any more than the man he relieved; in fact, he suffered even worse with a complete physical and mental breakdown.

                  The facts about combat stresses in WWII were somewhat different. Peck would never have been allowed to remain in combat from the moment he showed signs of getting into the same difficulties as his predecessor.

                  Superiors were not nearly as user friendly as they are these days, and nobody cared about mental trauma at all, it being considered part of being a soldier. Soldiers were supposed to suck it up and drive on at all costs.

                  Hollywood put together a morality story based very loosely on combat stresses among air crew, but it's still a Hollywood production.

                  My father survived the hell of OMAHA Beach, and no ne gave a damn how he felt abut what he had seen or suffered in the process. He was expected to soldier on and continue to perform his duties to the highest standard. That was the reality of combat stress in WWII.


                  I wouldn't say it was a complete concoction in the sense that it was divorced from reality. Surely the theme was indeed "suck-it-up" with an emphasis on personal pride and, essentially, the fostering of unit morale.

                  In this aspect it is still an effective training tool.

                  My own father saw a deal of action in WW2- as did my mother,come to that- and of course, higher authority was vitally concerned with the approach to the task in hand by the individual soldier/sailor/airman . This does not imply any sort of indulgence,only a regard for effectiveness in the field.
                  "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                  Samuel Johnson.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Doctor View Post

                    The movie did a great job of depicting what must have been unimaginable stress levels. Great cast, especially Dean Jagger as the group adjutant Lt. Col. Stovall.

                    It was the highlight of his long career, he won the Academy Award for best supporting actor.
                    Lance W.

                    Peace through superior firepower.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by warmoviebuff View Post


                      MARCH WATCHALONG: Twelve O'Clock High

                      1. Was Maj. Gen. Pritchard right to relieve Davenport?

                      2. Describe Savage's leadership philosophy and style.

                      3. Was Savage right in the way he handled the unit?
                      Just a reminder that we are approaching the end of the month and I will be posting my responses to the three questions on Monday. You can see the movie on Netflix Instant or on You Tube at:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIocheeTwL4

                      Here's a taste:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tieZKOnvVeY

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                      • #12
                        1. Was Maj. Gen. Pritchard right to relieve Davenport?

                        Pritchard feels that Davenport is a "first rate guy" and respects him, but after Savage puts a bug in his ear and he goes to observe Davenport, he determines that he "overidentifies" with his men. The last straw is Davenport's refusal to can the navigator that caused the unit to be late on target which resulted in heavy losses. Davenport does the right thing in assuming responsibility, but Pritchard needs a tougher commander apparently.

                        I personally think the decision was premature based on the facts presented to the general. Were there a surplus of good commanders at the time to where you could remove someone as good as Davenport? How about a forced leave or at least a talk about tough love? With that said, once the movie has Savage replace Davenport, it reveals that the group was poorly disciplined. Now that would have been a good reason to remove him.

                        One other thing to ponder? Suppose Davenport had made the decision to go on to the secondary target because he was three minutes late. Would he not have been criticized for not giving the "maximum effort"? Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

                        2. Describe Savage's leadership style and philosophy

                        Savage believes in tough love. His arrival is similar to Patton's arrival at II Corps. He accuses Gately of cowardice and puts him in command of The Leper Colony. He meets the crews and proclaims that it is back to basics. He tells them that they need to stop feeling sorry for themselves. They also need to stop thinking about the future. Consider yourself already dead. (The same philosophy as Speirs in "Band of Brothers"!) His whole plan is to build unit pride by being successful on their missions.

                        3. Was Savage right in how he handled the unit?

                        Yes. If the "player's coach" is not successful, try the strict disciplinarian and vice versa. If you take the hard ass approach like Savage, lighten up only after you have gained respect. He was right that officers should not be too close to their men. A commander must have the moral courage to accept losses for the greater cause. Of course, moral courage could lead to a mental breakdown.

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