THE McCONNELL STORY—-sentimental, patriotic bio of Air Force ace pilot Joe McConnell, who zapped fifteen Commie MIGs in Korea. It covers McConnell from enlistment as a private in WW2 and service on B-17s, followed by courtship and life with girl-next-door prototype June Allyson (whom he calls ‘Butch’). Then comes test-piloting of jets, finally heroism in Korea, with tragedy looming (downside of being a hero).
Sincere but sappy, workable in a sleepily nostalgic sort of way, much a product of 1955. Alan Ladd plays Joe, with as little energy as required. Allyson cries–she was always good at that–ask Jimmy Stewart. James Whitmore does his father-figure commander bit once again (“Frank Lovejoy’s unavailable?. Get me Jimmy Whitmore!”)
Photography of the wild blue yonder, dogfights included, is commendable (thanks to John Seitz), but on the whole the product, directed by Gordon Douglas, is cardboard matinée fare, another of the era’s boosters for the Air Force.
Ironically, Ladd, playing the fearless fighter ace, was himself prone to jitters when it came to air travel. The movie did stir him in one respect, as he fell head over heels for his co-star. He called her husband, Dick Powell, and told him “I’m in love with your wife.” Powell replied, “Everyone’s in love with my wife.” These guys are taking private eye cool to the outer reaches. Film was profitable, scoring $3,500,000. 106 minutes, with Frank Faylen, Robert Ellis, Willis Bouchley, Perry Lopez, Gregory Walcott, Frank Ferguson, Dabbs Greer, Edward Platt, John Beradino, and Dub Taylor.