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During the Korean War, Air Force nurse Lt. Polly Davis flies to Japan for her first assignment with the Medical Air Evacuation Unit, while hoping to be near her fiancé, Capt. Mike Barnes, a helicopter pilot from Rockingham, Texas. After landing, Polly is taken to the nurses' quarters in Tachikawa and meets her roommates, Lt. Ann Phillips and Lt. Kit Ramsay. When the other nurses learn about Polly's disappointment that Mike did not meet her at the airport, they warn Polly that "flight nurses never get their men." Soon Capt. Martha Ackerman, the chief nurse, sends them on their various assignments. Polly is taken to a C-47 plane, where she meets her medical technician, Sgt. Frank Swan, and the pilots, Captains Bill Eaton and Tommy Metcalf. As the crew flies to Korea, Polly is shocked by her first sight of war, but then quickly gains her composure to comfort the wounded men. Bill is impressed with her, but after hearing about Mike, philosophizes that "you can't pry a girl loose" from the daring helicopter pilots, who often become wounded or missing in action and leave their women unable to break free of their memories. However, Bill watches as Polly calmly saves a young man's life and decides to try to win her away from Mike. Back in Japan, Mike takes Polly on a date and talks about marriage, but their date is interrupted when Mike is called on a mission. Later, while evacuating the wounded, Bill learns that Mike's helicopter with wounded men is overdue from the front and waits for him as long as possible. When a report arrives announcing an imminent aerial combat, Bill decides to chance an escape, dodging both enemy and U.S. planes. During the flight, Polly learns of Mike's plight and is angry that Bill held back the information. Later, Kit warns Polly about small town life, but Polly believes that she would be happy in "Rocking Chair," Texas and worries about Mike. Several times during their missions, Bill is there to comfort Polly during bombings and saves her life when she is almost killed rescuing a wounded soldier. When the Marines and the Army land at Inchon and take Seoul, 50,000 prisoners of war are freed. Knowing he cannot compete with a dead hero, Bill hopes Mike is among the survivors. In a Seoul hospital, several released American prisoners are questioned about their experiences, and one soldier, after telling grisly tales, identifies a captured Korean as the man in charge of a murdering squad. Meanwhile, several dog tags of dead soldiers are retrieved, including Mike's. When Polly learns of this, grieving and oblivious, she is nearly killed by "Bed Check Charlie," an enemy flier who drops nightly bombs, but Bill saves her from being hit. At the urging of the secretly smitten Frank, who worries that Polly is near a breakdown, Bill talks to Ackerman, who decides to ground Polly. In sympathy, Ackerman confides to Polly that she, too, lost a pilot with whom she was in love. Later, after Kit reports that Mike was found alive near the Chosin Reservoir and is now in a hospital, Ackerman sends Polly there in Bill's plane. During the flight, a soldier who is suffering mental trauma opens the hatch. When the door flies back and hits the stabilizer, the pilots lose instrument control and must prepare for an emergency sea landing. During the jarring impact, Polly, trying to aid an unconscious soldier, is thrown and suffers a concussion. After the crew loads the passengers into lifeboats, Bill takes Polly into the crew raft with him. As they wait for rescue, Polly deliriously calls for "Rocking Chair" and Bill recognizes her unconscious desire for Mike. When they are rescued, Bill accepts that he will never see her again. For several weeks, Polly recuperates at the same hospital as Mike, who has been receiving regular care packages from his former hometown girl friend, Florence. When he is well enough to be shipped home, Mike again asks Polly to marry him. However, during her convalescence Polly has come to realize that she could not embrace a quiet life while she is needed in Korea, and suggests that Mike return to Florence. Having already guessed how Polly would answer, Mike breaks up with her amicably. Later, Polly rejoins Bill and the rescue team.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Washington, D.C.: 4 Nov 1953; Los Angeles opening: 16 Dec 1953|
|Release Date:||1954||Production Date:||
EBX; UCLA* has 35mm safety print R-FB000007344, M32834;
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Republic Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Republic Pictures Corp.|
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Alice McCracken 2014-04-12
I first saw FLIGHT NURSE when I was 12 years old and looking for adult women as role models. I grew up in an era when women were supposed to be wives and...