In this 1955 Otto Preminger film, Gary Cooper stars as World War I hero Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. The film recounts Mitchell's efforts to prove the viability of a strong air force. The hidebound military higher-ups refuse to finance aviation any further, figuring that the strength of the United States lies in its navy. When a friend is killed by flying a faulty plane, Mitchell charges the War and Navy department with incompetence and criminal negligence. When the brass tries to quietly court-martial Mitchell, they are forced into the open by the strength of public opinion, largely in Mitchell's favor. Subjected to the grilling of prosecutor Alan Guillon (Rod Steiger) during his trial, Mitchell sticks to his guns, even outlining a potential Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor unless the military wises up and strengthens its air power. Elizabeth Montgomery makes her film debut in the role of Margaret Landsdowne.
by Hal Erickson synopsis