Flat Top (1952) Poster

Flat Top (1952)

  • Rate: 6.6/10 total 179 votes 
  • Genre: War | Drama
  • Release Date: 26 October 1952 (USA)
  • Runtime: 83 min
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Flat Top (1952)


Flat Top 1952tt0044621.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Flat Top (1952)
  • Rate: 6.6/10 total 179 votes 
  • Genre: War | Drama
  • Release Date: 26 October 1952 (USA)
  • Runtime: 83 min
  • Director: Lesley Selander
  • Stars: Sterling Hayden, Richard Carlson and William Phipps|See full cast and crew
  • Original Music By: Marlin Skiles   
  • Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
  • Plot Keyword: Squadron | Commander | Survival | Japan | Korean War

Writing Credits By:

  • Steve Fisher (written by)

Known Trivia

  • The film’s title “Flat Top” is an informal term for an aircraft carrier as they have a long flat-top deck design for the enabling of aircraft to take-off and land. It is on one that most of this film is predominantly set.
  • The film utilized real color aerial combat footage.
  • According to “The Los Angeles Times” in July 1951, this film was to be the first production of Walter Wanger’s independent production company, releasing through Allied Artists / Monogram. However, Wanger did not in the end make this film; his debut for this company was Battle Zone.
  • ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ announced in April 1952 that some filming for this movie was shot on location in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • According to “Daily Variety” in July 1953, this film was called “Eagles of the Fleet” in the UK, as “Flat Top” was an American term for aircraft carriers that was not well known in the UK.
  • This film utilized actual newsreel footage edited into the movie.
  • This movie’s opening prologue states: “We desire to express grateful appreciation to the Department of the United States Navy for the cooperation which was extended on the production of this picture. We especially salute the men and officers of the USS Princeton on whose ship many of the sequences were filmed.”
  • ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ announced in July 1951 that actor Johnny Sands would be appearing in this picture but Sands is not credited as being in the film’s cast.
  • ‘The Los Angeles Times’ announced in July 1951 that this movie was going to be filmed in Canada. The picture did not end up shooting in Canada.
  • The film premiered on Armistice Day (Nov. 11) of 1952 in the harbor of San Diego (CA) aboard the USS Princeton, on which the film was mostly shot.

Goofs: Factual errors: When Ensign Barney Smith comes aboard, he is flying an AD-1 Skyraider. This aircraft only first saw military action in Korea and was not a part of the military aircraft of WWII.

Plot: Group Commander Dan Collier, on an aircraft carrier in Korean waters during the Korean War, starts to… See more » |  »

Story: Group Commander Dan Collier, on an aircraft carrier in Korean waters during the Korean War, starts to think back to the rough days of the air-war against Japan during World War II, when he was in the same squadron. In flashbacks, he recalls the arrival of the squadron, led by Executive Officer Joe Rodgers, and the campaigns in which the squadron participated and its desperate fight for survival prior to the climax of the war.Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>  

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Richard V. Heermance known as associate producer (as Richard Heermance)
  • Walter Mirisch known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Sterling Hayden known as Cmdr. Dan Collier
  • Richard Carlson known as Lt. (j.g.) Joe Rodgers
  • William Phipps known as Red Kelley (as Bill Phipps)
  • John Bromfield known as Ens. Snakehips McKay
  • Keith Larsen known as Ens. Barney Smith / Barney Oldfield
  • William Schallert known as Ens. Longfellow
  • Todd Karns known as Judge
  • Phyllis Coates known as Dorothy Collier
  • Dave Willock known as Willie
  • Walter Coy known as Air Group Commander
  • Peter Adams known as Plane Captain (uncredited)
  • Richard Bartlett known as Sailor (uncredited)
  • James Best known as Radio Operator (uncredited)
  • David Bond known as Chaplain (uncredited)
  • William Cabanne known as Officer (uncredited)
  • Clancy Cooper known as Captain (uncredited)
  • Bob Cudlip known as Plane Captain (uncredited)
  • Richard Emory known as Intelligence Officer (uncredited)
  • William Forrest known as Barney's Dad (voice) (uncredited)
  • Leonard Freeman known as Combat Flyer (uncredited)
  • Don Garner known as Flyer (uncredited)
  • Richard Grayson known as Flyer (uncredited)
  • Don Hayden known as Sailor (uncredited)
  • Tom Irish known as Young Sailor (uncredited)
  • Jack Larson known as Sailor with Scuttlebutt (uncredited)
  • Billy Lechner known as Lieutenant J.G. (uncredited)
  • John Lomma known as Flyer (uncredited)
  • Joel Marston known as Sailor (uncredited)
  • Roger McGee known as Sailor (uncredited)
  • Lee Millar known as Telephone Talker (uncredited)
  • Alvy Moore known as Sailor (uncredited)
  • Roland Morris known as Combat Flyer (uncredited)
  • Bill Neff known as Combat Flyer (uncredited)
  • William Newell known as Captain (uncredited)
  • Bob Peoples known as Plane Captain (uncredited)
  • William Tannen known as Commander (uncredited)
  • Glen Vernon known as Sailor (uncredited)
  • Harlan Warde known as Executive Officer (uncredited)
  • Katherine Warren known as Dorothy's Mother (uncredited)




Production Companies:

  • Monogram Pictures

Other Companies:

  • Department of Defense, The  grateful appreciation
  • United States Navy, The  grateful appreciation


  • Monogram Pictures (1952) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Republic Pictures Home Video (2004) (USA) (video)
  • Lehmacher Filmverleih (1958) (West Germany) (theatrical)
  • Artisan Home Entertainment (2003) (USA) (DVD)
  • Olive Films (2012) (Canada) (DVD) (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Olive Films (2012) (USA) (DVD) (DVD and Blu-ray)



Other Stuff

Release Date:

  • USA 26 October 1952
  • USA 5 December 1952 (New York City, New York)
  • Sweden 20 February 1953
  • France 4 December 1953
  • Finland 23 April 1954
  • Belgium 16 September 1955
  • West Germany 16 May 1958
  • Austria November 1958
  • Japan 19 May 1962



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on December 5, 2012 by Movies DVD New Releases Blu-ray in Movies | Tags: , , .


  1. yamato4745 from St. Louis, USA
    05 Dec 2012, 1:42 pm

    I am into WW2 aircraft carriers and the Pacific War and I find this filmtobe a good one for its time. The editing is great and there is only acoupleof war film segments that appear twice. Unlike Midway, they don’t usemodern carrier shots and even through it is not completely tied to abattleor campaign, every thing gets explained(In Midway, they didn’t show thefactthat the USS Yorktown CV5 sinks, or at least is supposed to sink). Overall, I’ll give this film 3 1/2 stars out of five.

  2. dtduke from United States
    05 Dec 2012, 1:42 pm

    My pet peeve for most World War 2 movies (this one included) is theswitching from one aircraft type to another in the same sequence,namely, a Corsair starts take-off and a Grumman Hellcat or DouglasDauntless leaves the flight deck, or starting a dive-bomb attack with aCorsair and then showing a Hellcat completing the pass. There are manyinstances of this inconsistency in the film, but if you get past thatit's OK. Also, Ensign Smith would probably not have been grounded foras long as it seemed he was (maybe a month), what with the need forpilots and the expense of his training. I know this was a plot move tomake his return to the air at the end seem more dramatic, but it was abit unrealistic.

  3. Werner from Munich, Germany
    05 Dec 2012, 1:42 pm

    This is a rather run-of-the-mill War movie on board an American flattop in the Pacific against the Japs. Definitely not in the class of "Awing and a prayer" or "Tora, Tora, Tora" and, without much backgroundfootage, even not up to the mediocre Midway. Education under fire withan as always impressing Sterling Hayden, not much else. Definitely aB-Movie under war movies issued during this area. Consumer commoditystuff not, if you want action, look at the above mentioned movies, ifyou want it along with history, choose Victory at Sea. Five out of Tenat best for the dogfight at the very end. Actually difficult to crunchout ten lines for this, isn’t it.

  4. ptb-8 from Australia
    05 Dec 2012, 1:42 pm

    My attraction to this B feature from 1952 is the above summary. Tragicperhaps to most, but to me, not even remotely interested in the Navy orwar films or Sterling Hayden and Richard Carlson or anything to do withguns (it might as well have been a western too, for that matter, but itisn't) … my only and complete fascination is that it was made byMonogram using interesting Cinecolor. I actually quite enjoyed FLAT TOPfor about an hour then I lost the thread of the story. It seemed to bea never ending circuit of missions/Japs/well filmed interestingdogfights, pink explosions in cine-color and men in jets looking outthe window. I think this was one of those films that worked well inhuge theaters full of kids or servicemen. Monogram seemed to have wellscammed a great idea to make a film: Get permission and co operationfrom the US Navy to film aboard one real aircraft carrier ( A: no setsneeded) using lots of men in uniform (B: no costumes needed and C:hundreds of free extras) cobbled a story together about jostlingdogfight commanders and some disciplinary tactics (scenes in smallrooms using A+B and some outdoors/on deck filler scenes using C. Theactual footage of some spectacular genuine dogfight action seemed to beplentiful (again, provided by the Navy or the War dept) as there was alot of fight scenes and flying through explosions and bits of blownapart planes (all very interesting and adding to the reality) and onand on it went. Some back projection with actors wobbling and swervingtheir cockpit and presto: one Govt sanctioned movie as a Korean Warpropaganda and recruitment piece now showing thu 1952 in 10,000theaters. Very profitable. My fascination with Monogram's productionmethods satisfied again. the Red/Bue cine-color was interesting as itresulted in tan skin tones with a lot of blue/grey (handy if you filman aircraft carrier and a sky) and a lot of orange/red (good forlifejackets and explosions). There was no yellow in the film and noactual green. It all worked as I am sure it was expected to. The musicwas excellent, the studio photography good too. Very well edited into85 minutes. My research in Australia showed that it had a good run andstayed in play up until the 60s believe it or not. Monogram ceased tobe a production name in 1953 when they changed name completely toAllied Artists. People criticize Monogram's inventive budget productionmethods but I find them ingenious.

  5. Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
    05 Dec 2012, 1:42 pm

    Richard Carlson is the pilot who lands a green squadron aboard the USSPrinceton, but before they can take a crack at those Japs they all mustbe whipped into shape by their tough commander, Sterling Hayden. Thecombat missions increase in difficulty and some losses are incurred buteventually they straighten up and fly right, thanks to Hayden'sunyielding demands.

    Most of the combat footage is familiar from other films about the warin the Pacific. If I see that flaming Japanese fighter skimming thesurface of the ocean and curving into the ocean one more time, I thinkI'll — well, I don't know what I'll do. Write a love letter to LindsayLohan or something equally crazy.

    Some of the newsreel photos are fresher than that. In one case, we seefrom the bridge of a carrier the slow-motion bounce of a Corsair thatbrings the airplane and its monstrous propellor, the size of windmillblades, careering into the superstructure just below the cameraplacement. I can't imagine how the photographer escaped with his legsintact.

    At the same time, though, there is a reckless disregard for historicalniceties and for continuity. We see the American aviators in thedistinctive cockpits of Corsairs (the Japanese are seen in mock ups ofcanopies from later models of the F6F Hellcat) and the next we see fromexternal shots that they are flying Hellcats or Helldivers or DouglasDauntlesses. You don't really need to be an airplane aficionado to findthis a little irritating. If you're anything but an underaged clodyou'll find it annoying. It's like watching a movie of a man driving aspeeding car on the freeway and in the next shot he's bent over abicycle's handlebars on a country road.

    The plot is a version of the process that had already become cinematicfodder and was to continue serving the same purpose, a thread to hangother events and developments on. The new commander must take charge ofa group that is either new to combat or disillusioned by it. Often, ashere, he has a tender-minded executive officer who is too close to hismen and seems to be coddling them. The commander must be cruel in orderto be kind. It's his job to be tough on them because no matter howmiserable he makes their lives, it's nothing compared to combat. I'llmention "Take the High Ground," "Patton," "Twelve O'Clock High," and"Flying Leathernecks" as other examples.

    But although the ultimate goal is lofty enough, the dynamics are reallymore interesting from a psychological point of view. One thing aboutmilitary training, or any other preparation for a life-and-deathenterprise, is that it provides an outlet for sadistic impulses of thecommander. In the movies, the commander almost always ends up showinghis humanitarian side. ("The Caine Mutiny" is an anomaly in thisregard.) And we, the audience, watch with delight as the commander goesfrom man to man, ripping each subordinate a new sphincter. SigmundFreud called it Schadenfreude, taking joy in seeing the pain inflictedon someone else who's shown weakness. And the caring quality of thecommander that is revealed at the end, when his men understand him andhis motives better, is a sop thrown to the audience so they don't haveto feel guilty about having enjoyed all the pain they've justwitnessed. I once had a skipper like that. On the surface he was kindof crusty and abrasive, but underneath that he was a sack ofsentimental mush. And underneath THAT he was a real MEAN SOB.

    There's an interesting movie buried in this strictly routine genre filmbut no one has bothered to try digging it out. Certainly not thewriters. ("We're going to hit them, and hit them hard.") I generallylike war movies because war is in many ways the ultimate experience –putting your life at risk because a stranger orders you to and withoutany hope of personal profit. But it's disappointing when they treat waras if it were something that only belongs in comic books or cartoons.The total social calamity that war represents is cheapened.

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