How well do you remember "Twelve O'Clock High?"

By: Susan McDonald
Image: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

About This Quiz

"Twelve O'Clock High" is widely considered one of the best films about World War II and has been praised for its depiction of military leadership skills. How much do you remember about this Gregory Peck classic?

What does Harvey Stovall buy at an antique shop in London in 1949?

The movie opens in 1949 with Harvey Stovall passing an antique shop in London. He sees a familiar Toby jug depicting Robin Hood in the window and buys it despite the owner's warning that it isn't very valuable. This starts Stovall on a sentimental journey.

What is the name of the airfield where the film takes place?

The film takes place at Archbury airfield near London at the beginning of World War II. Before Stovall's flashback begins to tell the story, he visits the abandoned space, now a pasture with vague remnants of the runways and buildings.

During the first mission depicted in the movie, one's man's arm was blown off. What happened to him?

Upon returning to the base, Colonel Davenport is informed that one of his men lost an arm during the battle. Because there was no way to apply a tourniquet and he would soon die, a decision was made to put him in a parachute and drop him from the plane, hoping he would be able to open it with his good arm and be taken to a French hospital.

Why does Colonel Davenport hope for bad weather?

Davenport is concerned that his men have flown missions on three consecutive days and will burn out if they must fly again. He hopes that bad weather will give them a day or two of rest and recuperation.

Doc Kaiser, the flight surgeon, goes to Davenport with a dilemma. What is it?

Kaiser says that 28 men have claimed to be sick and asked to be excused from duty the following day. He knows most of them are not really sick, but he wonders where to draw the line in terms of forcing them to fly in case some are suffering genuine mental burnout.

Why does Davenport go to see General Savage about the next day's mission?

Davenport is confused when he receives orders to fly at 9,000 feet on the next mission. He thinks it must be a mistake and the real orders should be for 19,000 feet, but Savage assures him the orders are correct and the distance is designed to improve accuracy in hitting targets.

Why does Davenport tell Savage he is concerned about his men?

Davenport is concerned that his men are too tired to continue flying every day. In addition to demanding missions, they must spend more hours preparing, resulting in them getting very little sleep. He is afraid they can't take much more.

What does Savage think Davenport's problem is?

Savage realizes that Davenport has gotten too close to his men and let discipline become lax. He tells Davenport that he thinks too much about the men and not enough about the mission they've been assigned, which is clouding his judgement.

What is the number of the bomb group depicted in the film?

The movie follows the experiences of the 918th bomb group. It is a unit of the U.S. Air Force stationed in England.

What is Major General Pritchard afraid will happen if this group fails?

Pritchard is afraid that if the 918th folds, other units will follow and eventually the war will be lost. This is why he relieves Davenport of command and puts Savage in charge.

What are Savage's instructions when Pritchard puts him in charge of the bomb group?

Pritchard instructs Savage to push the men as hard as possible and find out how much they can realistically take. He wants to know what the limits are in terms of asking too much, causing men to reach their breaking point.

Savage chastises the first person he meets upon arriving at the base. Why?

Savage is unhappy when he arrives at the base and the guard on duty simply takes his word that he is General Savage. He says that the fact that he is in a general's car means nothing and orders the man to verify the identification of everyone entering the base from then on.

Why does Major Harvey Stovall makes a poor impression on Savage when they first meet?

Stovall is at the Officer's Club when Savage arrives, and when he appears at the office, it shows. He admits to being drunk -- the first time in 20 years, he says -- but admits that it is likely to happen again.

Why does Savage demote Lieutenant Colonel Ben Gately from air executive to airplane commander?

Savage is rough on Gately from the moment they meet. He chastises him for leaving to drink rather than taking over when Davenport was relieved, and he reminds him that he comes from a distinguished military family and should do better.

What action does Savage take that immediately angers the men?

Savage makes a trip to the Officer's Club and buys Cobb a drink while he enjoys a beer. Then he angers everyone by announcing that the bar is closed until further notice.

Who replaces Gately after Savage demotes him?

Savage chooses Joe Cobb to replace Gately. Despite getting off to a rough start when they first met in the Officer's Club, Savage gives him a chance to prove himself.

What suggestion does Doc Kaiser make to Savage?

The transition from Davenport to Savage is a rough one for the men and Kaiser sees trouble ahead. He suggests that Savage ease up temporarily until the men get used to him and his methods.

What does Savage think the men in the group need most?

Savage sees many problems with his unit, but he thinks what they need most is pride. He believes that if they had some successes, they would begin to feel proud of their accomplishments and it would turn everything around.

Why does Bishop come to speak with Savage?

Bishop has been selected to go to Savage with some unfortunate news. The pilots -- all of them -- want to transfer to a different group.

What does Savage ask Stovall to do for him?

Savage thinks that if he had more time, he could get the pilots to change their minds about wanting to transfer. Stovall agrees to do what he can to stall the transfer requests, hoping to buy Savage at least 10 days.

What purpose does the Toby jug serve?

Savage places the jug on a shelf in the Officer's Club. Whether or not it faces the wall signals whether the group will be flying a mission the next day, ensuring that any outsiders who happen to be in the club remain in the dark.

How does Savage assign members to Gately's crew?

Savage continues to punish Gately by assigning him the worst possible crew members. Whenever anyone makes a mistake, he is immediately assigned to Gately.

Savage disobeys Pritchard's orders to turn back before completing a mission. What reason does Savage give?

Savage insists that the radio must have malfunctioned, preventing him from hearing the General's order to turn around. Pritchard might have been more inclined to punish him if he hadn't been so successful. Savage's group was the only one to bomb the target and lose no planes or men.

How does Savage reward his group for completing their first successful mission?

Savage is so pleased with his men's performance that he reopens the bar in the Officers Club. In addition, he asks General Pritchard for a commendation for the entire unit.

As Frank is packing to leave the base, what surprising information does he receive?

While the Inspector General is meeting with personnel to investigate the problems with the unit, Savage begins packing his belongings, certain that he will be transferred. However, Stovall comes in to inform him that the pilots have withdrawn their transfer requestsr since Savage has gained their respect and loyalty.

Why doesn't Savage bust McIllhenny to private after he stows away on a plane?

Savage is furious when he finds that McIllhenny has stowed away on Savage's plane during a mission and intends to bust him to private. He is forced to change his mind when he learns that several others have done the same thing, including Stovall and Kaiser. You can't punish everyone, and flying has become a desirable thing to do.

How does Gately end up impressing Savage?

On an earlier mission, Gately was forced to ditch his plane when it sustained a hit. Later Savage learns that Gately flew three missions afterward without telling anyone that he had sustained a serious injury. It turns out that he has a broken vertebra and must be in traction for several weeks. Impressive!

General Pritchard announces that Savage's group has been chosen to participate in an extremely important mission. What is it?

Pritchard announces that the group's next mission will be a difficult but important one. They are to destroy a large factory that supplies nearly all the ball bearings used by the German Army.

Which of these is NOT the name of one of the bomb squadron's planes?

Savage's plane is called Picadilly Lilly, while another is named Reluctant Dragon. Leper Colony is the name Savage forces Gately to give his plane as punishment for his various misdeeds.

What does 12 o'clock high mean?

An imaginary clock face is used to identify the positions of the enemy during war time. Twelve o-clock designates that an enemy plane is directly overhead.

Why does Stovall say he plans to stay drunk for a while?

After the unit begins to sustain more losses, Stovall gets drunk for the second time in the movie and this time he says he might stay in this condition for a while. He is upset that he can't remember the individual faces of the men they've lost anymore. They've all run together.

Why does Savage not go on the last raid?

Savage is ready to begin the mission, but when he reaches his plane, he finds that his arms are shaky and too weak to enable him to pull himself through the door. As his mental condition deteriorates, he needs to be restrained as the planes take off.

Who does Savage ask to take over as commander for the mission?

Having redeemed himself thoroughly, Gately is back in Savage's good graces, so the general designates him to serve as lead pilot on Savage's plane and command the mission.

What does Savage do during the mission?

Savage has suffered a severe mental breakdown and is catatonic during the entire mission. Despite efforts to speak to him, he stares ahead, unblinking, until the planes return.

What does Savage do after the planes return to base?

Savage comes back to life when he hears the sounds of the planes returning. He gets a count on the number that have returned and gets assurance that Gately's plane is among them. He then calmly lies down and goes to sleep.

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