publicity picture, Robert Stack (wearing cap) facing Edmond O'Brien
|Directed by||Raoul Walsh|
|Produced by||Seton I. Miller|
|Written by||Seton I. Miller
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Cinematography||Wilfred M. Cline
|Edited by||Christian Nyby|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Fighter Squadron is a 1948 American Technicolor war film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Edmond O'Brien as a maverick World War II fighter pilot, with featured performances by Robert Stack and John Rodney.
At an American air base in England in 1943, conniving, womanizing Sergeant Dolan (Tom D'Andrea) manipulates everyone, while insubordinate ace fighter pilot Major Ed Hardin (Edmund O'Brien) gives his commanding officer and close friend, Colonel Brickley (John Rodney), headaches by ignoring the out-of-date rules of engagement formulated by Brigadier General M. Gilbert (Shepperd Strudwick). When Major General Mike McCready (Henry Hull) promotes Brickley to whip a new squadron into shape, Brickley recommends Hardin as his replacement. Despite his misgivings, McCready agrees. To everyone's surprise, Hardin strictly enforces the rules.
One rule in particular, forbidding pilots to marry, irks his friend and wingman Captain Stu Hamilton (Robert Stack). As a result, when his tour of duty ends, Hamilton does not sign up for another one, instead going home to marry his sweetheart. However, he returns, hoping to persuade Hardin to overlook his transgression. Hardin refuses to let him back into the squadron, but does weaken enough to let him fly one last mission. Unfortunately, Hamilton is shot down and killed; he admits to Hardin over the radio as his plane plummets to the ground that he was distracted by thoughts of his wife.
McCready decides that he needs Hardin for his staff, but allows Hardin to finish his tour first. His next mission is providing close air support for the Allied landings on D-Day. His plane is hit by flak and crashes.
- Cast notes
- Rock Hudson has an uncredited role as a pilot in his film debut. Hudson, a former truck driver by the name of Roy Fitzgerald, was under personal contract to director Raoul Walsh, who rode him unmercifully, saying "You big dumb bastard, don’t just get in the center of the camera and stay there like a tree, move!" It took 38 takes to get a good version of Hudson's one line, "You’ve got to get a bigger blackboard."
The fighter group is equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts. For Luftwaffe fighters, the film used P-51 Mustangs with ersatz German markings. The film was shot for two weeks at Oscoda Army Air Field on Lake Huron, Michigan, and used previously unreleased aerial combat color footage provided by the Army Air Force. The movie is fiction, but is based on the exploits of the fighter groups based in England before the Normandy landings. Many said this film is based on the actions of the 4th Fighter Group, who called themselves "Blakeslee's Bachelors", who stayed as bachelors until they were married, followed by ordered transfers to other units. The transfer policy was decided by the unit's CO, Col Donald J. M. Blakeslee.