The McConnell Story

The McConnell Story
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Produced by Henry Blanke
Written by Ted Sherdeman
Sam Rolfe
Based on a story by Ted Sherdeman
Starring Alan Ladd
June Allyson
James Whitmore
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography John F. Seitz
Edited by Owen Marks
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • September 29, 1955 (1955-09-29) (New York)
Running time
107 mins
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3.5 million (US)[1]

The McConnell Story is a 1955 dramatization of the life and career of U.S. Air Force pilot Joseph C. McConnell (19221954), who served as a navigator in World War II before becoming the top American ace during the Korean War. He was killed while serving as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert of California. The Warner Brothers production, filmed in CinemaScope and Warner Color, starred Alan Ladd as McConnell and June Allyson as his wife. Longtime Warners staff composer Max Steiner wrote the musical score for the film.



The movie was announced in May 1954, with Alan Ladd and June Allyson attached from the beginning.[2] It was Alan Ladd's second consecutive film for Warner Bros following Drum Beat. However unlike that film, it was made for Warner Bros, not Ladd's own production company.[3]

A number of months after the film was announced, McConnell died in a crash. This required the script to be rewritten.[4]

For a sequence depicting the rescue of a downed B-29 Superfortress crew that McConnell was trying to protect, a Sikorsky H-19 of the 48th Air Rescue Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida, was deployed to Alexandria AFB, Louisiana, for seven days in February 1955. Captain E. R. Thone and Airman First Class Ronald K. Opitz, of the 48th ARS, were the crew for the helicopter, TDY to shoot the rescue sequence.

Colonel William L. Orris, Commander Detachment No. 1, Air Force Operational Test Center at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico was the technical advisor for the film.[5]

Shown on American Movie Classics, host Bob Dorian said that Ladd, who hated flying, filmed his scenes in mockups in front of blue screens. He also noted that Ladd and Allyson fell in love during filming; Ladd reportedly called Allyson's husband, actor/director Dick Powell, and told him, "I'm in love with your wife," to which Powell replied, "Everyone is in love with my wife."[6]


This film helped establish the Missing Man Formation as part of military aviation culture.

Directed by Gordon Douglas, the film was released in the VHS home video format in 1995.

See also


  1. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956.
  2. WYLER WILL FILM NOVEL BY HAYES: Paramount Producer Lists 'Desperate Hours,' Suspense Drama Set in Midwest By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 May 1954: 20.
  3. ALAN LADD STARS IN 'DARKEST HOUR': Warner Film, a Melodrama, Will Be Made by Actor's Own Producing Company By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 18 Nov 1954: 40.
  4. BY THE WAY with BILL HENRY: Rites for Jet Ace Scheduled for Tomorrow Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Aug 1954: A1.
  5. Fort Walton Beach, Florida, "Eglin Group Aiding In Film Story", Playground News, Thursday 3 March 1955, Volume 9, Number 57, page 3.
  6. American Movie Classics
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