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ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves$
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Matthew Carter and Andrew Nelson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474403016

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403016.001.0001

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Partial Rehabilitation: Task Force and the Case of Billy Mitchell

Partial Rehabilitation: Task Force and the Case of Billy Mitchell

Chapter:
(p.184) Chapter 9 Partial Rehabilitation: Task Force and the Case of Billy Mitchell
Source:
ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves
Author(s):

Andrew Howe

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403016.003.0010

Andrew Howe provides an account of one of Daves’ war films. Task Force is a biopic of General Billy Mitchell who, during the 1920s, tirelessly advocated for the concept of the aircraft carrier as the future of naval warfare. In his analysis, Howe posits three central figures: Daves as writer-director, Billy Mitchell as historical inspiration, and lead-actor Gary Cooper, who plays Mitchell’s fictional treatment in the film, Jonathan L. Scott. The chapter situates its analysis of ‘Mitchell’ within the context of the early Cold War years and of the Hollywood of the time. In the case of the latter, it discusses Hollywood’s post-War obsession with the subject of aerial warfare. In contrast to other contributors in this collection, Howe suggests Daves’ greater quality was as a writer, rather than a director, and ranks his best scripting efforts – Task Force included – alongside those of Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray.

Keywords:   War films, Gen. Billy Mitchell, Gary Cooper, World War 2, Cold War, Hollywood

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