Your 1949 film, Twelve O’Clock High, is as much a lesson in leadership as it is a testament to the trials of war and the fortitude of men. Davenport (Gary Merrill) and Savage (Gregory Peck) each show distinct styles which are appropriate in different settings. Unlike Davenport, who cares deeply for each of his men and strives to protect his subordinates, General Savage tries to remain aloof and detached. Savage’s method emphasizes the importance of establishing boundaries, encouraging each team member to play to his strengths, and leading by example. The tactic I admire most, though, is Savage’s desire to build pride and purpose within his team. In the film, he succeeds so well in doing so that even the paper pushers stow away to partake in missions. Set at the beginning of America’s effort to join WWII, Twelve O’Clock High encapsulated a strategy that would be employed by the United States in the monumental war effort for years to come.
Good night, Mun
I just left a double feature of Gigi and An American in Paris, which has been my favorite movie since I was first introduced to it in college. I’ve seen both films so many times that I no longer recognize the moments during which you and Minnelli intended to make the audience laugh or to overwhelm our senses. Luckily, I attended tonight’s screening with a Minnelli/Lerner/Freed/Caron film virgin, so she had no idea what to expect. Registering her reactions revived my great love of both films and helped me remember how incredibly sharp your dialogue can be. Your writing befits the mixture of French and American spirits that is essential to both films. Your French characters embody the American ideals of hard work, honesty, and optimism, while your American ones lose themselves in flirting, romance, and intrigue. Your tone, plot points, and witticisms were perfect for the post-war musicals of the Golden Age and they live on to amuse and delight moviegoers today.
Good night, Mun
P.S. I’d especially like to thank you for the song “The Night They Invented Champagne.” Between you and me, I sing it in my mind every time I enjoy a glass of bubbly.