The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this 1955 Otto Preminger film, Gary Cooper stars as World War I hero Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. The film recounts Mitchell's efforts to prove the viability of a strong air force. The hidebound military higher-ups refuse to finance aviation any further, figuring that the strength of the United States lies in its navy. When a friend is killed by flying a faulty plane, Mitchell charges the War and Navy department with incompetence and criminal negligence. When the brass tries to quietly court-martial Mitchell, they are forced into the open by the strength of public opinion, largely in Mitchell's favor. Subjected to the grilling of prosecutor Alan Guillon (Rod Steiger) during his trial, Mitchell sticks to his guns, even outlining a potential Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor unless the military wises up and strengthens its air power. Elizabeth Montgomery makes her film debut in the role of Margaret Landsdowne.

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Gary Cooper
as Col. Billy Mitchell
Charles Bickford
as Gen. Jimmy Guthrie
Rod Steiger
as Maj. Allan Guillion
Ralph Bellamy
as Congressman Frank R. Reid
Jack Lord
as Lt. Cmdr. Zachary 'Zack' Lansdowne
Elizabeth Montgomery
as Margaret Lansdowne
Fred Clark
as Col. Moreland
James Daly
as Col. Herbert White
Peter Graves
as Capt. Elliott
Darren McGavin
as Russ Peters
Robert F. Simon
as Adm. Gage
Charles Dingle
as Sen. Fullerton
Dayton Lummis
as Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Tom McKee
as Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker
Steve Roberts
as Maj. Carl Spaatz
Herbert Heyes
as Gen. John J. Pershing
Robert Brubaker
as Maj. H.H. Arnold
Ian Wolfe
as President Calvin Coolidge
Phil Arnold
as Fiorella La Guardia
Will Wright
as Adm. William S. Sims
Steve Holland
as Stu Stewart
Adam Kennedy
as Yip Ryan
Manning Ross
as Ted Adams
Carleton Young
as Gen. Pershing's Aide
Griff Barnett
as Civilian Steno
Edward Keane
as Court Judge
Robert Simon
as Adm. Adam Gage
John Maxwell
as Court Judge
Ewing Mitchell
as Court Judge
Max Wagner
as Sergeant Major
Jack Perrin
as Court Reporter
Gregory Walcott
as Reporter Millikan
William Fox
as Reporter
Robert B. Williams
as Reporter Tuttle
Edna Holland
as Woman Secretary
William Forrest
as Commandant FSH
Frank Wilcox
as Officer Tom
Peter Adams
as Officer
Joel N. Smith
as Reporter
Fred Perce
as Reporter
Al Page
as Reporter
George Mayon
as Reporter
Michael Lally
as Reporter
Cy Malis
as Reporter
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News & Interviews for The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell

Critic Reviews for The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (2)

With Cooper as the crusading officer, one is never in any doubt as to the correctness and sincerity of his views (Mitchell was posthumously rehabilitated in 1947), while Steiger puts in one of his inimitably flashy performances as the prosecuting attorney

October 23, 2007 | Full Review…

The picture is a real kick in the shins for the cult of blind military obedience and the lesson which is laid on the line relates to Pearl Harbor.

October 23, 2007 | Full Review…

A quintessential Gary Cooper role in this portrait of the forgotten father of modern aviation, the sort of picture Golden Age Hollywood churned out with surprising speed and skill.

October 5, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Though not one of Preminger's stronger films, it's still worth seeing this fact-based courtroom drama starring Gary Cooper.

August 24, 2012 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

The only certainty that remains is the need to ask questions

September 5, 2009 | Full Review…

Away from the courtroom, the film is less riveting, though Cooper is consistently impressive.

October 23, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell


Solid if a bit slow drama of a man putting his career on the line for his what he believes rightly is the good of his country. The cast is full of great actors including an amazingly beautiful and impossibly young Elizabeth Montgomery in her first film role. She isn't totally at ease yet but delivers in her big scene.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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