I've had this movie on my 10 Best List for many, many years.
This story of healing from loss through love is immensely powerful. It's exquisitely photographed; it looks much more art film than Hollywood. The direction is solid, and the pacing near perfect. Peck holds his own among a field of scene-stealing character actors. His performance gives us a clue as to what he was like on the stage. His good looks don't distract you; he's utterly convincing as a pilot who's lost the love of his life and no longer cares whether he lives or dies. In the first part of the movie his character is not a good guy, and it's believable. Hard to do when you look like Gregory Peck.
Love conquers all, of course. The story turns on his love for a woman. But, as the movie progresses, we find that he loves his crew too, even "old Blore." The young navigator worships him, and the admiration is returned full force. Their relationship is a key element of the story, as important as the romance between Peck and the Burmese girl.
This is one of those rare movies where men openly love each other--not in a gay sense--in a human sense. It's a love based on respect. This is something missing from almost all heterosexual movies. Probably because most men don't seem to be able to easily distinguish between sex, attraction, affection, and love. It all gets mixed up together, and homophobia damps down any positive emotions between men that isn't associated with some sport. Wartime seems to provoke these feelings too, evidently, but it's rare for a picture to show manly affection, except as a joke. It's just one aspect of this film, but one that shouldn't be overlooked.
I can only hope this movie gets rediscovered and recognized for the fine, fine film that it is.
After losing his bride in a Luftwaffe air raid, bomber pilot Forrester becomes a solitary killing machine, who doesn't care whether he dies. The reckless Canadian pilot is both admired and feared by the rest of his squadron in World War II Burma. The squadron physician is assigned to determine the embittered Bill Forrester's fitness for duty. To break through the nightmare-haunted man's wall of silence, the physician drives Forrester to visit an outpost of English-speaking refugees, which includes an alluring young Burmese woman.
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