Thursday, April 22, 2010

Above and Beyond(1952). Story about Pilot Paul Tibbets.

Above and Beyond (1952). The film is about Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb. Cast: Robert Taylor, Eleanor Parker and James Whitmore.

Brent believes that Paul, an Army Air Corps pilot, is the man for an important job and orders him to leave Africa and return to the U.S. When they are on the plane flying to Washington, Brent tells Paul that he will be sent to Wichita to test the B-29.

His wife Lucey, learns that it is going to be a short reunion and later visits Paul in Wichita.

After the B-29 is determined to be safe, Paul returns home to Washington, again their family time is cut short when Paul is called to Colorado Springs.

Paul meets Maj. Bill Uanna, who goes over details of Paul's past conversations with other officers over the past year as a security check. Brent then informs Paul that he is one of four men considered for the most important project of the war. Before telling Paul what the job is, he hands him a buzzer and asks if he would press it if by doing so the war would end tomorrow and save 1,000,000 lives but he would have to kill 100,000 people. Paul pauses for a moment, then presses the buzzer.

Brent invites several scientist of the "Manhattan Project," to explain the project to Paul. Brent then tells Paul that only he, Uanna and Paul will know that his mission is to drop an atomic bomb over Japan. Paul agrees and soon leaves for base in Wendover, Utah. To make Wendover seem like the other bases, Uanna suggests that families should live on base, but tells Paul not to bring Lucey, who is now pregnant.

After Lucey gives birth, she makes plans to join him. After seeing Paul Lucey soon detects a change in him.

Meanwhile, Paul and his team are constantly testing the B-29s to make sure that they will be able to carry the weight of an atomic bomb.

Their relationship begins to fall apart when she shares her feelings over the innocent people who died during the war.

Meanwhile, Brent has told Paul that the Japanese have refused to surrender and the president has given the go ahead for use of the bomb. Repeated testing is taking its toll on Paul.

One night, when the exhausted Paul returns home, Lucey casually mentions that Harry had made up an excuse to get a weekend off to take Marge on a vacation. Paul immediately has Harry relieved of his duties. Angry, Lucey, says she wants out of the marriage.

The next day, Paul goes to Colorado Springs to see Brent, who has been injured in a plane crash, and tells him that it is "blue light." When he returns to the base, he learns from Uanna that Lucey came to him wanting to know what was going on. When Lucey apologizes to Paul, for interfering, he tells her that she and the children will leave for Washington that afternoon.

With the work at Wendover now finished, the project's next phase, called "Operation Silverplate" sends Paul and his crew to the island of Tinian. Paul soon learns that weather conditions will allow them to make the mission the next morning. Paul cannot sleep and writes a letter to his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets, telling her his fears about killing so many people, then names his plane after her. Will Paul have the courage to accomplish his mission?

One of my favorite scenes, is when Paul comes home one to hear sounds from someone working on the plumbing. Lucey tells him that she has found someone to fix the plumbing. "Who?", asks Taylor and Lucey says "One of the sanitary engineers". The plumber turns out to be one of the scientists with the Manhattan Project.

FUN FACTS: (spoiler alert).

The sequences showing the bombing of Hiroshima were lifted from another MGM film, The Beginning or the End (1947).

In 1951, Taylor met Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets and found that they had much in common. Both had thought about studying medicine, and were avid skeet-shooters and fliers. Taylor learned to fly in the mid-1930s, and served as a United States Navy flying instructor during World War II. His private aircraft was a Twin Beech called "Missy" (wife Stanwyck's nickname) which he used on hunting and fishing trips. She complained that he spent all his time polishing his guns and aircraft, but when airborne could "do anything a bird could do, except sit on a barbed wire fence".

Marilyn Erskine, started her performing career at the age of three years, appearing on a local radio show in Buffalo, New York. She also appeared on the nationwide CBS radio show Let's Pretend sometime between 1929 and 1937, where children played all the roles in adaptions of fairy tales and other children's stories, Erskine performed the role of Jane Baxter in Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre on the Air adaptation of Seventeen (October 16, 1938).

 As a teenager, she appeared in at least nine Broadway productions in New York City.

She appeared in several Hollywood movies in the early 1950's: Westward the Women (1951) playing Jean Johnson Above and Beyond (1952) playing Marge Bratton The Girl in White (1952) playing Nurse Jane Doe Just This Once (1952) playing Gertrude Crome The Eddie Cantor Story (1953) playing Ida Tobias Cantor A Slight Case of Larceny (1953) playing Mrs. Emily Clopp Confidentially Connie (1953) playing Phyllis Archibald She played herself in an MGM documentary Challenge the Wilderness (1951), on the production problems faced while filming Westward the Women. She was also one of the narrators for the MGM documentary The Hoaxters (1953), a short history of Communism.

 She appeared in almost every anthology drama series of the Golden Age of Television, from General Electric Theater to Westinghouse Studio One to Science Fiction Theater to Lux Video Theater to Climax, appearing in over fifty different productions on thirty different series from 1949 to 1962.

In her later career, after 1962, she primarily played roles on westerns and crime dramas. She was a co-star in the television series The Tom Ewell Show, playing Tom's wife, Fran Potter. This situation comedy ran from September 1960 through May 1961 on the CBS television network.

She was a co-presenter for the Short Subject Awards category of the 26th Annual Academy Awards in 1954, and appeared as herself in the last episode of the The NBC Comedy Hour June 10, 1956.

In the 1960's she made two guest appearances on Perry Mason starring Raymond Burr.

Her last role on television was in 1972, in the Ironside TV series, also starring Burr.

 She married Hollywood producer/director Stanley Kramer in May 1945. The marriage was annulled two months later. She married insurance executive Charles Curland in 1955, and had two children. Their home in Brentwood, California was featured in an article in the Fall 1958 issue of Architectural Digest.


  1. Love this movie. I watched it last night - again! The bombing sequence is fascinating.

  2. panavia999, Above and Beyond, is a very emotional movie. I have really been enjoying this months featured actor Robert Taylor, on TCM. I have had a hard time deciding which movies to review..

  3. I've also enjoyed this month! I have not seen that many Robert Taylor movies. Plus any time he is in a horse is fine with me. He was a good rider.


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