Saturday, May 28, 2016

Twelve O Clock High - Movie Review

The 1949 movie is recommended for leadership training in the book 'Triggers' and rightly so. A US Air Force bombing squad fighting the Second World War for the Allies is termed the 'Hard Luck Squad' because of its constant string of failures. It's tough work surely because the squad is doing daylight precision bombings on Germany and Occupied France and is pushing themselves but the results are exceedingly bad. The Commander identifies the leader as the problem, saying he has become too close to his men and has thus become soft on them. The Commander is replaced and the new Commander General Savage (Gregory Peck) pushes the men to what he calls Maximum Effort - all men fit to fly will fly.

General Savage's approach is to treat the young pilots as men and not boys and he is excessively hard on them - a complete contrast to his predecessor. Mistakes and small errors are  punished with excessive harshness. The boys gang up and rebel and ask for transfers but General Savage buys time, and trains the lads, and leads them to some successful missions. The Hard Luck Squad tastes success and slowly the boys begin to believe in themselves. The Squad ends up performing brilliantly and earning a commendation but not before losing some of its men and even putting General Savage under severe duress as he tries to lead his team but suffers a severe nervous breakdown. The 918th comes out in flying colours finally with its softest member leading the Squad successfully on its last mission as lead Commander.

One of the best movies for lessons in leadership. 

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