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Above and Beyond

(1952 b 122')

En: 6 Ed: 7

A bomber pilot is put in charge of preparing for the first use of an atomic bomb and has to keep it all secret even from his wife.

         In 1943 Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets (Robert Taylor) leads a B-17 bombing mission over North Africa at 6,000 feet. They lose two planes, and Tibbets complains about the altitude to General Roberts (Robert Burton). General Brent (Larry Keating) assigns Tibbets to testing B-29s in Wichita without his wife.

         Paul sees Lucey Tibbets (Eleanor Parker) at the airport for a half hour. Tibbets tests B-29s but has little time with Lucey. William Uanna (James Whitmore) questions Tibbets. General Brent and scientists tell Tibbets about the secret atomic bomb project. Tibbets gathers top men at isolated Wendover Air Base in Utah. Uanna is security officer and says MPs will shoot to kill. Several men are removed for talking. Uanna suggests that wives and kids come there except for Tibbets.

         Tibbets flies to Texas to requisition six cargo planes, but General Roberts refuses. Tibbets takes them anyway. Lonely Lucey has another baby and calls Paul. She arrives, and Paul shows her the base and their little house. Tibbets takes off with an overweight load. Marge Bratton (Marilyn Erskine) tells Lucey that people are complaining about Paul. At a dance tipsy Harry Bratton (Stephen Dunne) tells Lucey about security agents. Paul won’t tell Lucey anything about his work.

         Lucey has a “sanitation engineer” fix the kitchen plumbing. Tibbets is told that the bomb has to explode at 1600 feet. He gets home late on their anniversary and gets angry when Lucey talks of children being bombed.

         A boy is injured, and Lucey goes past MPs to find Paul, who disciplines an MP and sends her home. General Brent tells Tibbets that President Truman has authorized using the atomic bomb against Japan. Brent says Tibbets is now a full colonel and gives him his eagles. At home Lucey criticizes Paul, and he goes out.

         Scientists tells Tibbets they want more tests. Paul is irritable. Lucey says that Harry knows of a retreat place. Paul calls and has Harry fired. Lucey asks Paul to get her out of there, and he agrees. Tibbets flies to see Brent, who is badly injured. Tibbets makes his decision.

         Lucey asks Uanna where Paul is and what he is doing. Uanna won’t say and has her watched. Uanna tells Tibbets to send her away and make people think it is a squabble. Paul tells Lucey that she is leaving.

         Tibbets and his crew fly to Tinian Island. Tibbets flies to Guam and briefs General Curtis LeMay (Jim Backus). One plane will fly at 31,000 feet. Tibbets briefs his crew at 10:15, and he writes a letter to his mother Enola Gay that he is scared. He names the plane Enola Gay, and they take off at 2:15 a.m. Captain Parsons (Larry Gates) arms the bomb. Tibbets tells his crew about the bomb. Weather reports indicate only Hiroshima is clear. The bomb is dropped and explodes over the city. They see the cloud and then fires. Tibbets reports good results.

         Tibbets tells reporters “No comment.” Lucey hears the news and cries. Paul returns to Washington, and Lucey welcomes him with a kiss.

         This docudrama is considered a rather accurate account of the momentous first use of an atomic weapon in war. The extreme secrecy reflects the mistrust and even paranoia that pervades the war mentality that plans how to destroy others without being stopped.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

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