A GATHERING OF EAGLES—standard military drama about a commander who drives his men too hard, himself even harder. Set and filmed at bases of the Strategic Air Command in 1963, so if you want a rather dated idea of how global destruction may yet be expedited, it ought to give you an orientation.
Directed by Delbert Mann, the $3,346,500 film is respectable in its details, but it is just not compelling and at 115 minutes is way too long . Plus, after Strategic Air Command, Bombers B-52 and a squadron of films adoring the Air Force, it’s just more cost-justifying overkill.
The Air Force gave full co-operation to this, as Gen. Curtis LeMay and the other brass hats were afraid that the forthcoming satire Dr.Strangelove and doom-spreading Fail-Safe might make people nervous about how all those nukes were being handled (and by what type of fellow). Ya think? “Bombs away LeMay”and his trigger-finger cronies needn’t have worried as they shortly got a new lease on life (death) over in SE Asia, practicing for the unholy towers of the Kremlin on the threatening bamboo huts of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The critics and public ignored this picture. It targeted an Oscar nomination for Sound Effects (snagged by the rather more fun It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) .
Even the tag line didn’t bring people in: “The Red Phone… His Mistress… Her Rival… Hurling Him to the Edge of Space… Freezing Her Love on the Edge of Time!” They also tried ROCK HUDSON – HOLLYWOOD’S NO. 1 HE-MAN STAR! but that didn’t fly either and the film only dredged up $2,500,000.
Rock Hudson gives a good account of himself, and Rod Taylor is solid as always, but the numbing familiarity shoots this flight down. With an uninspiring cast: Mary Peach, Barry Sullivan, Robert Lansing, Henry Silva, Kevin McCarthy, Leora Dana, Richard Anderson, Robert Bray, Leif Erickson and Louise Fletcher (28, in her debut). Sullivan and Lansing must be there because they couldn’t get James Whitmore and Lloyd Nolan this time out. There zoom your taxes, folks, going, going…….