How much can a man give? When the U.S. 8th Army Air Force 918th Bombardment group is ordered on their fourth harrowing mission in four hard days, Brigadier General Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) demands "maximum effort." The bombers are forced to fly lower, to fly farther, and to test themselves -- overspent and fatigued -- right up until death's door. When their dedicated colonel speaks out in their defense, Savage mercilessly takes over command -- an officer should not sympathize with his men. The Brigadier General will compel the 918th to stop pitying itself and to hone its morale in the face of danger. Yet, as the men grow colder due to Savage's orders and the missions bring them closer to their crucial German targets, the officer learns the practical impossibility of raising the confidence of young men while also sending them to their deaths. He begins to understand that it is the burden of command that makes even the toughest leader sympathetic. Eventually caring for his men above all else, it is Savage who is forced to carry the hardships of "maximum effort" -- asking himself, how much can a man take?
by Aubry Anne D'Arminio synopsis