Gregory Peck and all the actors do fine work, but this movie is not really about the actors as, for example, Cleopatra is. Twelve O’Clock High is about the men of the US Air Force bombing Germany during the second world war. Gregory Peck takes over a ‘hard-luck’ unit determined to whip them into shape. He succeeds, but the cost is high. Being released in 1949 when strategic bombing and The Bomb were much on people’s minds, this would have been timely.
Twelve O’Clock High examines the problems of commanding men in battle; or it opposes humanism and technocracy; or it simply pits man against himself. In any sense, it’s a great movie, and a must-see.