Paul Mantz and Twelve O’Clock High

 

The second time Paul Mantz makes the list. It seems that he had a specialty that no one else could duplicate. He was the only stunt pilot that could crash planes on command. The B-17 bomber crash landing at the airstrip near the beginning of the movie was no special effect. Stunt pilot Paul Mantz was paid $4,500 to crash-land the bomber. Mantz, of course, walked away from the wreck. Until the 1970s, that was the largest amount ever paid to a stuntman for a single stunt.  It’s a pretty amazing feat, as the bomber is huge!

 Twelve_O'Clock_High_crash_landing
Paul Mantz crashing the B-17

Frank Tallman, Mantz’s partner in Tallmantz Aviation, wrote in his autobiography that, while many B-17s had been landed by one pilot, as far as he knew this flight was the first time that a B-17 ever took off with only one pilot and no other crew; nobody was sure that it could be done. The footage was used again in the 1962 film The War Lover.Twelve O'Clock High Stunt

Screenwriters Bartlett and Lay drew on their own wartime experiences with Eighth Air Force bomber units. At the Eighth Air Force headquarters, Bartlett had worked closely with Colonel Armstrong, who was the primary model for the character General Savage. The film’s 918th Bomber Group was modeled primarily on the 306th because that group remained a significant part of the Eighth Air Force throughout the war in Europe.12 bomber b17

Veterans of the heavy bomber campaign frequently cite Twelve O’Clock High as the only Hollywood film that accurately captured their combat experiences. Along with the 1948 film Command Decision, it marked a turning away from the optimistic, morale-boosting style of wartime films and toward a grittier realism that deals more directly with the human costs of war. Both films deal with the realities of daylight precision bombing without fighter escort, the basic Army Air Forces doctrine at the start of World War II (prior to the arrival of long range Allied fighter aircraft like the P-51 Mustang). As producers, writers Lay and Bartlett re-used major plot elements of Twelve O’Clock High in Toward the Unknown and A Gathering of Eagles, respectively.

Twelve O’Clock High was directed by Henry King for 20th Century Fox.

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page):

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