16 JUNE 1955, Page 19

CINEMA

STRATEGIC Am COMMAND. (Plaza.) To launch VistaVision, a new but not notice- ably original recruit to the Big Screen, Para- mount has produced a film dedicated to the Strategic Air Command, a good film with a point to make, a plea to advance and a strato- sphere to explore. The hero is James Stewart, recalled from private life for 21 months' ser- vice with the Air Force and furious, like many of his brother officers, at having to give up a good job and, grey-haired as he is, play at war. He thinks the whole thing idiotic. The film sets out to prove that in order to have peace the air must be filled, night and day, with bombers, each of which can 'do' a Hiroshima in any part of the globe; and that this, with all right- thinking men, is top priority. For old Air Force personnel the pursuit of this ideal entails much sacrifice; in Mr. Stewart's case it involves the happiness of his wife, June Allyson, who, with a new-born baby, resents the frequent absence of her husband on missions to the North Pole, and deplores the abandonment of her home. Both sides of the case, the political and the human, are•fairly presented and the sermon well preached, but one cannot help being left with the impression—not new but always un- comfortable—that the world is mad. The con- trast between the broad and simple infinities of the sky, the serene blue of it, its exquisite sunsets and dawns, and the incredibly compli- cated lethal cigars it encircles, puts man in a poor light. Confined, shackled to his seat, almost submerged by the fruits of his labour and ingenuity, the tubes, the wires, the dials, the thousands of devices, he soars upwards to the sun, yet really, alas, rises little higher than a daisy. The moral is there, but it is hardly SAC's.

This film, as well as being highly convincing in all technical respects. is finely acted, Frank Lovejoy as a general giving a shining per- formance and the hero and heroine showing a pleasing restraint. Directed by Anthony Mann, who seems to detest histrionics as much as he loves the B-47, Strategic Air Command is adult, interesting, and at times perfectly beautiful.