Ladies and gentlemen: another disaster from Artisan!
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The back of the box says Full Screen Format! What? This is a CinemaScope picture? So I put it in my player just to check it out. And what do I see? Some kind of letterbox image (about 1:2) far from the correct aspect ratio, but better than full screen. Alas, it is not enhanced for anamorphic playback, and the colors are washed out and fuzzy! So is the focus, and there is some kind of "net" pattern so obvious and distracting most of the time, that I finally decide to rate this DVD as unwatchable! Sad, indeed! Yet another disaster from Artisan, one of many DVD distributors that you cannot rely on. Sure, they have given us some pretty nice transfers, but most are far below acceptable standards. When will these people learn that quality means happy consumers, and happy consumers means better sales?"
Flies High, But Not Supersonic...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 12/19/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Court Matrial of Billy Mitchell" is a gem, albeit not a precious one. Gary Cooper is in fine form given the constraints of the material he has to work with. Charles Bickford is perfect as General Guthrie, Ralph Bellamy steals his scenes, and Rod Steiger rules his eight to ten minutes of screen time. Here we also have three future stars of television, who round out the supporting cast; Jack Lord, Elizabeth Montgomery, and a cameo for Peter Graves. The story of the almost prescient Mitchell, who forsaw the then-fanciful advancements in air power, perfectly captures the views of the Army and Navy at the time; that airplanes were nothing more than unreliable toys.Mitchell, always a crusader for air power, is muzzled and ignored by the military establishment. Only when the Navy airship Shennedoah is lost due to shortsighted Navy orders does Mitchell break with the Army and make public statements accusing the Army and Navy command of negligence. Inviting his own courtmartial in order to finally have his say, Mitchell is given the opportunity to martyr himself in the name of military airmen everywhere.If anything holds the film back, it would have to be the combination of the script and the oddly detached direction of Otto Preminger. Neither serves the material well, but the film is compelling anyway. The film bogs down a bit as it transmutes from historical action bio into a courtroom drama, but the legend of Mitchell is enough to carry the film over the rough spots, and keep the viewer watching.The packaging of the DVD says that the film is in standard (or pan n' scan) format, but the disc is actually (and thankfully), in widescreen. The widescreen framing is not perfect, but close enough for satisfaction. The color is a bit "washed out", and the sets are clearly painted in a color scheme meant for black and white film. This combination makes the colors a bit garish at times, but for the age of the film, it looks pretty good overall barring a full-on restoration.Of special note is the final set piece, the warehouse that served as location for Mitchell's trial. The set is surprisingly true to the photos taken of the actual location during the real life trial."
Billy's Universal Choice: Obedience or Integrity
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 07/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The events of December 7, 1941 may have come as a total surprise to nearly all Americans, but not to Billy Mitchell, who years earlier had predicted with astonishing accuracy the details of an attack that would cripple United States naval powers for more than two years. In THE COURT MARTIAL OF BILLY MITCHELL, director Otto Preminger dramatizes the dilemma of Billy Mitchell, who had to struggle with his sense of duty that ran counter to a conscience that refused to let his fellow airmen die in preventable air crashes. Gary Cooper as Billy Mitchell was 54 when he made this film and his true life weariness and evident age did not detract from a performance that did not differ materially from the laid back roles he had earlier showed as Lou Gehrig and Alvin York. As disgraced Colonel Billy Mitchell, Cooper uses his stone face and immense dignity that allows him to maintain his purpose while others lose theirs in the heat of the moment. Colonel Mitchell has seen too many trusted comrades die when he and they knew that their deaths were caused by the criminal negligence of his military superiors. Mitchell does the unthinkable. He goes public with his accusations and is court martialed.The first half sets up this courtroom drama with sterling performances by Jack Lord, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Darren McGavin. As his friends die, you can sense that Mitchell's iron-bound duty not to break the chain of command is beginning to rust. The dramatic center of the first half is internal, as Cooper portrays a man who knows what he wants to do but is forbidden to do. The second half is the trial itself. Although Cooper has to share center stage with Charles Bickford as the presiding judge and a young and arrogant Rod Steiger as the prosecuting attorney, Cooper manages a rare balancing act. He successfully keeps the military jury's and the audience's attention on the need for aviation reform while not allowing the film to sink into a 'message' movie, that might otherwise have been literally true but less interesting. One of the reasons that enabled Cooper to be the megastar that he was was his ability to say commonsense things in a straightforward way that never let the audience forget that a fully-fleshed character truly believed in the veracity of his words. No matter how hard Steiger tries to make Cooper look foolish on the witness stand, it is Steiger--and by implication the army--that was foolish for not heeding Colonel Mitchell's many warnings about the need to upgrade the American air force. The movie ends rather abruptly with no hint that Mitchell's foresight would one day be vindicated. And if the audience is denied the pleasure of seeing Colonel Mitchell vindicated, then, by contrast, the integrity of a man who had only his gut feelings to guide him stamps him as the rarest of men: one who has strong convictions and is unafraid to place his job and character on the line to express them."
The man who predicted the Pearl Harbor attack!
Bennett Turk | Albany, NY USA | 03/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am reviewing the movie "The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell", and not the VHS copy of it. Gen. Billy Mitchell was the Army/Air Force General who in the 1920's; said, and showed, that aircraft bombers could sink battleships. He also said,(under oath), in the 1920's that the Japanese could launch a Sunday morning aircraft carrier attack on Pearl Harbor, and devestate the USA Army and Navy units stationed there. ENDING SPOILER-Gen. Mitchell was court martialed and forced to resign his commission more for the way he said what he did, than for what he had to say. Seeing this film with it's great cast, especially Gary Cooper in the title role, makes me think about what might have been IF Gen. Mitchell been a little more tactful, or had his higher ranking officers been a little more willing to listen to him. Citizen Billy Mitchell died in the 1930's, so he was not alive in 1941. This is an outstanding film about the only person a US military aircraft was named for; the B-25 Mitchell, and I think it should be shown every Dec. 7th, along with "Tora, Tora, Tora"."
I found it riviting.
Carolyn J. | Ventura, CA United States | 12/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Today, all movies have to have sex, violence, swearing, computer generated mosters and spcial effects in order to be interesting, because the plots and characters are so thin. But this movie, mostly about a trial held in a warehouse, I could not tear myself away from it. Even though it didn't have any love triangles or karate kicks or explosians or anything like that in it, The power of the story itself was enough. They didn't even show the air crashes that precipitated the trial. I wish there were more movies like this today: drama, integrity, characters with purpose and values, and a plot where the stakes were genuinly high: the security of the future of America."