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Men of the Fighting Lady (MGM 1954, Van Johnson, Walter Pidgeon)



The Fighting Lady is the aircraft-carrier setting of this Korean War naval aviation drama. The plot is fairly routine, with the usual mix of brash young pilots and stock combat footage, the stories linked by Louis Calhern’s narrative, here playing writer James A. Michener. Miklos Rozsa provided the stirring score, which proves particularly effective in a scene where blinded pilot Dewey Martin is talked down to the flight deck by Van Johnson. This film was so beloved by President Ronald Reagan that he reportedly incorporated lines from Walter Pidgeon’s role into speeches about real events.

The movie features the screen debut of six-year-old Jerry Mathers as the son of Ted Dodson (Keenan Wynn). His most famous role would come three years later playing the title role in TV’s Leave It to Beaver.

production details
USA / MGM / 81 minutes / 1954

Director: Andrew Marton
Producer: Henry Berman
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Editor: Gene Ruggiero
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Script: Art Cohn
Production Design: Cedric Gibbons
Set Designer: Edwin B. Willis

Van Johnson as Lt. Thayer
Walter Pidgeon as Cmdr. Dowling
Louis Calhern as James A. Michener
Dewey Martin as Schecter
Keenan Wynn as Lt. Cmdr. Dodson
Frank Lovejoy as Lt. Cmdr. Grayson
Robert Horton as Unknown
Bert Freed as Unknown