|Directed by||Josef von Sternberg|
|Written by||Jules Furthman|
|Produced by||Jules Furthman|
Howard Hughes (presenter)
|Starring|| John Wayne |
|Cinematography||Winton C. Hoch|
|Edited by||Jim Wilkinson (Ed supv)|
Michael R. McAdam
William M. Moore
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper|
Jet Pilot is a 1957 American Cold War romance film directed by Josef von Sternberg, and starring John Wayne and Janet Leigh. It was written and produced by Jules Furthman, and presented by Howard Hughes. Filming lasted more than eighteen months, beginning in 1949.  The last day of shooting was in May 1953, but the Technicolor film was kept out of release by Hughes due to his tinkering until October 1957, by which time Hughes had sold RKO. Universal-International ended up distributing Jet Pilot. 
The film went through several directorial changes, after Sternberg's work between October 1949 and February 1950. After that, Philip Cochran (supervisor of aerial sequences), Furthman, Edward Killy (unit production manager), Byron Haskin (for the model work), and Don Siegel also directed scenes (Siegel's weren't used), as did Howard Hughes himself.  All were uncredited as directors or second unit directors.
Although Jet Pilot was publicized as showcasing the U.S. Air Force's latest jets, by the time it was finally shown, most of the aircraft in the film were obsolescent or obsolete, supplanted by more modern aircraft. In one aerial scene, the two lead characters fly a Lockheed F-94 Starfire to test a radar approach to intercept a propeller driven Convair B-36 bomber.
Jet Pilot was reportedly Howard Hughes's favorite film, one he watched repeatedly in his later years.
A Soviet defector lands a jet fighter aircraft on an American airstrip. The base commander, Air Force Colonel Jim Shannon (John Wayne), is surprised to find that the pilot is an attractive woman, Lieutenant Anna Marladovna (Janet Leigh). When she asks for asylum, but refuses to disclose any military information, Shannon is assigned to seduce her. They fall in love. Worried about the possibility of Anna's deportation, Jim marries her without permission.
When they return from their unauthorized honeymoon, Major General Black (Jay C. Flippen) takes Jim aside and informs him that his new wife is a spy, sent to relay information back to the USSR. The Americans decide to play along, and escalate the situation.
Shannon goes home to tell Anna that she is to be imprisoned for years, then deported when she is finally released. To save her, they hatch an escape plan, steal an aircraft, and fly to Soviet airspace. Their arrival is not shown, but Anna is criticized for allowing Shannon to crash the more advanced American aircraft when Russian fighters closed in, rather than fighting back. She says that she considered shooting him, then decided that he would be more valuable for his knowledge than the plane would have been.
While they are there, Shannon discovers that Anna is pregnant. Shannon is then assigned to help test new aircraft, a pretext for drugging him and pumping him for information about American aircraft. He learns much about Soviet capabilities from the questions he is asked, while only giving up outdated information in return. When Anna discovers this, she initially plans to turn him in, but as she learns he is to be drugged into permanent insensibility, she lets her personal feelings override her sense of duty. Finding herself under suspicion, she disposes of the agent sent to keep an eye on her, steals an aircraft, and escapes back to the West with Shannon.
As appearing in Jet Pilot, (main roles and screen credits identified): 
Hughes intended to make a "jet-age" Hell's Angels to the extent that the flying scenes were the most important element, and led to his obsessive re-editing that stretched into years.  The lead actors fretted that the screenplay was "silly", with Wayne only taking on the role because he thought it would make a political statement, but soon realized it would become "one of the worst films" he would ever make.  Wayne would later recall, "The final budget was something like four million. It was just too stupid for words." 
Location filming took place primarily at Edwards Air Force Base and Hamilton Air Force Base, California, with full cooperation from the United States Air Force.  Much of the filming of flying scenes was done at Edwards using a North American B-45 Tornado bomber as a camera aircraft. Chuck Yeager, the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound, was assigned by the U.S. Air Force to fly for the film.  Yeager would fly in the X-1, staged for the film cameras, on May 20, 1950. 
Another senior jet pilot who flew in the movie was USAF Major Charles Rayburn Cunningham. He and another senior jet pilot, USAF Ret Lt. Col Glen M. "Johnny" Johnson, flew for John Wayne and Janet Leigh.
The F-86A Sabre jets depicted in the early sequences were actual operational aircraft of the 94th Fighter Squadron, the first unit so equipped in the USAF, shortly after their conversion to the type in 1949. Yeager would also fly the F-86A in a series of aerobatic maneuvers, under the direction of "air boss" Paul Mantz who coordinated the aerial sequences. 
Location filming for the Russian air base was done at George Air Force Base, a World War II air base with many of its wartime structures still intact, giving the base a primitive appearance. The 94th FS and its parent 1st Fighter Group were actually based at George during filming, and had just finished a deployment to Ladd Air Force Base, Alaska, as depicted in the storyline.
The "Soviet parasite fighter " that Shannon flies is actually a Bell X-1, the first supersonic aircraft design in the world. [Note 1]
The "Yak-12" at the film's beginning is a black-painted Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star. The "mother ship" for the Soviet parasite fighter is actually a Boeing B-50, a development of the B-29. [Note 2] ; The black fighter that appears near the finale, taxiing on the parking ramp and behind the "mother ship" is a Northrop F-89 Scorpion. An F-86 Sabre is used to depict a Russian chase aircraft, painted in dark colors, high visibility orange, and gray juxtaposed to obscure its actual silhouette. The unpainted fighter that Olga is to test fly is also a Northrop F-89 Scorpion.
John Wayne's character and other characters wear both the original Army Air Forces uniform and the newer USAF blue uniform.
Despite the obvious similarities to other successful films, including Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka (1939), Comrade X (1940), as well as the more recent dud, The Iron Petticoat (1956), by the time Jet Pilot hit the screens, it looked dated and received universally poor reviews.  Bosley Crowther of The New York Times , referred to it as "silly and sorry", doomed by a "weak script, poor direction, and indifferent performances by all", concluding that it was far from being Hughes's next Hell's Angels .  For aviation fans, even the aerial scenes were greatly reduced, as much of the principal photography had taken place early in 1950, making Jet Pilot something of a historical curiosity. 
Movie historian Andrew Sarris, writing for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) Josef von Sternberg film retrospective, expressed a better opinion of the film than Crowther. Categorizing Jet Pilot as a stealth comedy, Sarris praises its "humor and sensuality" as "enduringly enjoyable" despite a poor reputation among critics.  He said that Sternberg "reduces the Cold War to an animated cartoon" and anticipates a number of metaphors that would appear in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 black comedy, Dr. Strangelove . Jet Pilot includes an inflight refueling sequence between aircraft flown by a Russian jet pilot (Janet Leigh) and an American pilot (John Wayne) that makes Kubrick's sequence look tame. The fighter jets become interchangeable with the characters, a comic anthropomorphism where "the planes enjoy a more active sex life than the human beings". Sarris considers Wayne and Leigh to be miscast in a Sternberg film, who were more at home in the "Ford galaxy" or the "Hitchcock universe", respectively. He concluded that however "meaningless" the film, Sternberg's Jet Pilot "soars in an ecstatic flight of speed, grace and color" and, all said, is a "highly entertaining" work. 
Brigadier General Charles Elwood Yeager was a United States Air Force officer, flying ace, and record-setting test pilot who in 1947 became the first pilot in history confirmed to have exceeded the speed of sound in level flight.
The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a semi-retired American single-seat, twin-engine stealth attack aircraft that was developed by Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works division and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). It was the first operational aircraft to be designed around stealth technology.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 is a jet fighter aircraft developed by Mikoyan-Gurevich for the Soviet Union. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful jet fighters to incorporate swept wings to achieve high transonic speeds. In combat over Korea, it outclassed straight-winged jet day fighters, which were largely relegated to ground-attack roles, and quickly countered the similar American swept-wing North American F-86 Sabre.
The McDonnell XF-85 Goblin is an American prototype fighter aircraft conceived during World War II by McDonnell Aircraft. It was intended to deploy from the bomb bay of the giant Convair B-36 bomber as a parasite fighter. The XF-85's intended role was to defend bombers from hostile interceptor aircraft, a need demonstrated during World War II. McDonnell built two prototypes before the Air Force (USAAF) terminated the program.
The North American F-86 Sabre, sometimes called the Sabrejet, is a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as the United States' first swept-wing fighter that could counter the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights in the skies of the Korean War (1950–1953), fighting some of the earliest jet-to-jet battles in history. Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in that war, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras. Although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the 1950s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces.
Josef von Sternberg was an Austrian-American filmmaker whose career successfully spanned the transition from the silent to the sound era, during which he worked with most of the major Hollywood studios. He is best known for his film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s, including the highly regarded Paramount/UFA production, The Blue Angel (1930).
Robert Anderson "Bob" Hoover was an American fighter pilot, test pilot, flight instructor, and record-setting air show aviator.
The Convair XF-92 was an American, delta wing, first-generation jet prototype. Originally conceived as a point-defence interceptor, the design was later used purely for experimental purposes and only one was built. However, it led Convair to use the delta-wing on a number of designs, including the F-102 Delta Dagger, F-106 Delta Dart, B-58 Hustler, the US Navy's F2Y Sea Dart as well as the VTOL FY Pogo.
George Schwartz Welch was a World War II flying ace, a Medal of Honor nominee, and an experimental aircraft pilot after the war. Welch is best known for having been one of the few United States Army Air Corps fighter pilots able to get airborne to engage Japanese forces in the attack on Pearl Harbor and for his work as a test pilot. Welch resigned from the United States Army Air Forces as a major in 1944, and became a test pilot for North American Aviation.
The Sound Barrier is a 1952 British aviation film directed by David Lean. It is a fictional story about attempts by aircraft designers and test pilots to break the sound barrier. It was David Lean's third and final film with his wife Ann Todd, but it was his first for Alexander Korda's London Films, following the break-up of Cineguild. The Sound Barrier stars Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, and Nigel Patrick.
Tonopah Test Range Airport, at the Tonopah Test Range is 27 NM southeast of Tonopah, Nevada and 140 mi (230 km) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a major airfield with a 12,000 ft × 150 ft runway, instrument approach facilities, and nighttime illumination. The facility boasts over fifty hangars and an extensive support infrastructure.
A fighter pilot is a military aviator trained to engage in air-to-air combat, air-to-ground combat and sometimes electronic warfare while in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft. Fighter pilots undergo specialized training in aerial warfare and dogfighting. A fighter pilot with at least five air-to-air kills becomes known as an ace.
Toward the Unknown, originally called Flight Test Center and titled Brink of Hell in its UK release, is a 1956 film about the dawn of supersonic flight filmed on location at Edwards Air Force Base. Starring William Holden, Lloyd Nolan and Virginia Leith, the film features the screen debut of James Garner.
Albert G Boyd was a pioneering test pilot for the United States Air Force (USAF). During his 30-year career, he logged more than 23,000 hours of flight time in 723 military aircraft. When he retired in 1957, he had flown every aircraft type operated by the USAF, including attack, cargo, trainer, fighter, experimental, bomber, mission trainer, liaison, observation, and general aviation planes and helicopters.
The Lockheed NF-104A was an American mixed-power, high-performance, supersonic aerospace trainer that served as a low-cost astronaut training vehicle for the North American X-15 and projected Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar programs.
The McConnell Story is a 1955 dramatization of the life and career of United States Air Force (USAF) pilot Joseph C. McConnell (1922–1954) directed by Gordon Douglas. McConnell served as a navigator in World War II before becoming the top American ace during the Korean War and was killed on August 25, 1954, while serving as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, California. The Warner Brothers production, filmed in CinemaScope and Warner Color, stars Alan Ladd as McConnell and June Allyson as his wife. Longtime Warners staff composer Max Steiner wrote the musical score for the film.
Kenneth O. "K.O." Chilstrom is a retired United States Air Force officer, combat veteran, test pilot, and author. He was the first USAF pilot to fly the XP-86 Sabre, chief of fighter test at Wright Field, commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, and program manager for the XF-108 Rapier. Chilstrom was a pilot in the first jet air race and delivered the first air mail by jet. He flew over eighty combat missions in the Italian Campaign of World War II and tested over twenty foreign models of German and Japanese fighters and bombers to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
Air Cadet is a 1951 American drama war film directed by Joseph Pevney and starring Stephen McNally, Gail Russell, Alex Nicol and Richard Long. Air Cadet featured United States Air Force (USAF) pilots in training along with actors mixed into the training courses. The film had a small early role for 26-year-old Rock Hudson and a scene with future astronaut Gus Grissom.
Operation Moolah was a United States Air Force (USAF) effort during the Korean War to obtain through defection a fully capable Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter. Communist forces introduced the MiG-15 to Korea on November 1, 1950. USAF pilots reported that the performance of the MiG-15 was superior to all United Nations (U.N.) aircraft, including the USAF's newest plane, the F-86 Sabre. The operation focused on influencing Communist pilots to defect to South Korea with a MiG for a financial reward. The success of the operation is disputable since no Communist pilot defected before the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. However, on September 21, 1953, North Korean pilot Lieutenant No Kum-Sok flew his MiG-15 to the Kimpo Air Base, South Korea, unaware of Operation Moolah.
Robert M. Bond was a lieutenant general of the United States Air Force (USAF). He saw combat in Korea and three tours of Vietnam, before becoming an instructor and then vice-commander of an organization which developed and evaluated weaponry for the USAF. He was decorated for his combat service and his peacetime role. He died in an accident in Nevada while flying a Soviet-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 jet fighter-bomber.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jet Pilot (film) .|