The inspirational story of a young clergyman is neatly integrated with fighter pilot action in Battle Hymn. Rock Hudson, as Col. Dean Hess, the minister whose story is told, heads the excellent cast.
Perhaps best known of Hess’ deeds were his efforts in behalf of the Korean children left orphans and homeless in the wake of the fighting in that country. While quite a bit that gets on the screen may seem typical motion picture fiction, Hess served as technical advisor to assure that fact predominates.
Douglas Sirk’s direction and the screenplay stirs compassion and sympathy for the personal cross Col. Hess had to bear after accidentally bombing a German orphanage during his fighting days in World War II. This incident comes to light via flashback to establish his need to again give up his pulpit for pilot wings and go to Korea with the Air Force. In Korea he finds himself via the 1,000 or more orphans he cares for and air-lifts to safety.
Hudson does one of his better performances in capturing the Hess personality and character. Martha Hyer plays Mrs. Hess, the wife who waits and worries at home, with a gracious, winning appeal, although femme emphasis more naturally falls to Anna Kashfi, very effective as Miss Wong, a true Korean heroine who literally gave her life to aid Hess’ work with the orphans.