The War Lover

The War Lover

Infobox Film
name = The War Lover

image_size = 215px
caption =
director = Philip Leacock
producer = Arthur Hornblow
writer = John Hersey
Howard Koch
starring = Steve McQueen
Robert Wagner
Shirley Anne Field
Michael Crawford
music = Richard Addinsell
cinematography = Robert Huke
editing = Gordon Hales
distributor = Columbia Pictures
British Lion Films "(UK)"
released = fy|1962
runtime = 105 minutes
country = FilmUS
language = English
budget =
gross =
imdb_id = 0056676

"The War Lover" (fy|1962) is a black and white war film directed by Philip Leacock and written by Howard Koch loosely based on the 1959 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The War Lover" by John Hersey, altering the names of characters and events but retaining its basic framework. It stars Steve McQueen, Robert Wagner, Shirley Anne Field a young Michael Crawford, and Ed Bishop.

The war itself is not the most important element of the film. Instead it focuses on the character of Buzz Rickson (McQueen) and his determination to serve himself and get what he wants - in the process antagonizing everyone.


In 1943, Captain Buzz Rickson (Steve McQueen) is an arrogant B-17 pilot stationed in England during World War II. When a bombing mission is aborted because clouds obscure all potential targets, Rickson ignores the order to turn around, dives under the clouds and completes the job, at the cost of one of the bombers in his squadron and its entire crew. Rickson revels in the fighting and destruction; when he is assigned to drop propaganda leaflets, he makes his displeasure felt by buzzing the airfield. His commanding officer tolerates his repeated insubordination because he is the best pilot in the bomber group. Even so, when he asks the flight surgeon his opinion, the latter is uncertain whether Rickson is a hero or a psychopath. However, Rickson's crew trusts his great flying skill, especially his co-pilot Lieutenant Ed Bolland (Robert Wagner).

Between missions, Rickson and Bolland meet a woman, Daphne Caldwell (Shirley Ann Field). Though she is attracted to both pilots, she quickly finds out what kind of man Rickson is and chooses Bolland. They soon begin sleeping together. She falls in love with him, though she suspects he will leave her behind and return to America at the end of his tour of duty.

Meanwhile, Bolland becomes increasingly disillusioned with Rickson, his arrogance, and his callousness. Rickson pressures his navigator, Second Lieutenant Marty Lynch, into transferring to another aircraft because he questions his orders and behavior. Soon afterwards, family man Lynch is killed in combat. His friend Bolland takes it hard and blames Rickson.

Then, when the crew is near the end of the required 25 missions, Rickson makes a move on Daphne, visiting her in her flat after Bolland heads back to the base. Rickson plans to embark on a second tour of duty, while his rival goes home. Daphne rejects his forceful advances, but Rickson tries to make Bolland think otherwise.

Finally, on a bombing mission, the B-17 is badly shot up-and one crew member {Sailen} dies of wounds. It limps back over the English Channel and the rest of the crew bails out. Rickson then pushes the unsuspecting Bolland out and tries to nurse the airplane back to base by himself, only to crash into the cliffs of Dover.


*Steve McQueen as Captain Buzz Rickson
*Robert Wagner as Lieutenant Ed Boland
*Shirley Anne Field as Daphne Caldwell
*Gary Cockrell as Second Lieutenant Marty Lynch
*Michael Crawford as Sergeant Junior Sailen, a member of Rickson's crew. Crawford later became famous for playing the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera".

Actor Warren Beatty turned down the role of Rickson.


"The War Lover" was filmed in England at RAF Bovingdon in Hertfordshire, RAF Manston in Kent, around Cambridgeshire, and at Shepperton Studios in Surrey. [IMDB [ Locations] ]

Three Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers formed the main aerial component in the film and were composed of one B-17G and two postwar PB-1W Coast Guard rescue aircraft located in the United States. After extensive modifications, the three warbirds flew the arduous trans-atlantic crossing to England. [ [ The War Lover (1962)] ] Martin Caidin, who would later write the novels on which the TV series "The Six Million Dollar Man" and the movie "Marooned" were based, was one of the pilots who flew the B-17s for the film.

"The War Lover" was shot in 1961, and released in the United States on 25 October 1962 [IMDB [ Release dates] ] The film opened in London in June 1963. [TCM [ Notes] ] Some short but rare footage of actual air combat is included – especially the attacking Messerschmitt Bf 109G armed with 20 mm cannons firing at the B-17s.




* Dolan Edward F. Jr. "Hollywood Goes to War". London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-229-7.
* Harwick, Jack and Schnepf, Ed. "A Buff's Guide to Aviation Movies". "Air Progress Aviation", Volume 7, No. 1, Spring 1983.
* Oriss, Bruce. "When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War II". Hawthorne, California: Aero Associates Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-9613088-0-X.

External links

*imdb title|0056676
*tcmdb title|3836
*allmovie title|1:53331

Film reviews

* [ Channel4 (UK)]
* [ Imdb]

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