Mission Over Korea (1953)


(director: Fred Sears; screenwriters: Jesse Lasky Jr./Martin Goldsmith; cinematographer: Sam Leavitt; editor: Henry Batista; music: Benedict Mayers/ Raymond Mattori; cast: John Hodiak (Capt. George Slocum), John Derek (Lt. Pete Barker), Audrey Totter (Kate), Maureen O’Sullivan (Nancy Slocum), Harvey Lembeck (Sgt. Maxie Steiner), Richard Erdman (Swenson), William Chun (Clancy), Rex Reason (Maj. Hacker); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Cohn; Columbia; 1953)
“Below average gung-ho war drama regarding the unpopular Korean War.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Below average gung-ho war drama regarding the unpopular Korean War, classified as a police action. John Derek is in it, so you know the acting is bad. Fred Sears (“Ambush at Tomahawk Gap”/”Don’t Knock The Rock”/”Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers”) is directing, so you know this is a B-film. Jesse Lasky Jr. and Martin Goldsmith are the writers, who never came up with a story that held my interest. There’s a few decent aerial dogfights that come as a relief after the dreadful dialogue. The producer Robert Cohn is the nephew of Columbia head Harry Cohn. It’s set in 1950.

While Capt. George Slocum (John Hodiak) is the pilot of the small unarmed versatile L5 single-engine surveyor plane and is stationed in an American Army base in Kimpo, South Korea, his best pal, Lt. Jerry Barker, delivers orders that he’s to return to Japan briefly for R&R. In Japan the captain meets Jerry’s younger brash rookie pilot brother Lt. Pete Barker (John Derek) on his first day in Japan and greets his loyal wife Nancy (Maureen O’Sullivan) and two children, before he’s soon ordered back to his Korean base after receiving news of North Korea’s attack on South Korea. Pete on his first day in Japan attempts to romance Kate (Audrey Totter), an experienced Army nurse. While George and Pete fly to Pusan, Korea, on a mission to deliver supplies they are diverted to Seoul because of the North Korean air attacks. While passing over Kimpo base, they descend to find it bombed and find a wounded Jerry who soon dies. The duo fight off the commies on the ground with the help of Clancy (William Chun), the South Korean adopted as the company mascot. The saddened Pete swears vengeance against the North Koreans, at one point saying “I want to pay them off in napalm.” That’s about where the film settles into, as it shows how heroic are the men in ensuing battles despite some heavy losses and how determined they are to put all their efforts toward winning the war.