Lt Col James Doolittle mapped his blitz on Japan 131 days after Pearl Harbor. There is suspense as the flyers prepare themselves for their long-range training in anticipation of the secret mission. [Script is based on the book and Collier’s magazine story by Cpt. Ted W. Lawson and Robert Considine.] More or less relegated but capital as the bulwark of the entire mission is Spencer Tracy’s conception of Doolittle. Van Johnson is Ted Lawson and Phyllis Thaxter his wife. It’s an inspired casting.
Prominent in Johnson’s crew are Tim Murdock, a standout as the co-pilot; Don DeFore as the navigator; Gordon McDonald as the bombardier; and Robert Walker, who is particularly effective as the wistful gunner-mechanic.
Their plane, the Ruptured Duck, and its pleasant little family become the focal attention henceforth. After Doolittle finally tells them of their mission to bomb Japan, the war becomes a highly personalized thing through the actions of these crew members.
1944: Best Special Effects
Nomination: Best B&W Cinematography