Lafayette Escadrille (1958): William Wellman’s Final (Compromised) WWII Film, Starring Tab Hunter

Lafayette Escadrille, the final film in the prolific career of director William Wellman, based on his original story, is a war film.

Produced by Warner, the film is aka as C’est la Guerre, Hell Bent for Glory (UK) and With You in My Arms.

Starring Tab Hunter and Etchika Choureau, the film also features David Janssen, Will Hutchins, and Clint Eastwood in early supporting role.

 

Lafayette Escadrille
Lafayette Escadrille poster.jpg

theatrical release poster

After the opening credits, the narrator states it’s a tales about “a half-forgotten corner of France, and a wholly forgotten war,” dedicated to the memory of the heroes who died in defense of Right and Liberty.’”

In the last scene, set at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial, the narrator states: “It stands in aging splendor on the outskirts of Paris, a war turned to stone in the broad museum of Europe. They wore French uniforms. They fought in French planes. And they fell in love with French women. Two words: Lafayette Escadrille.”

In the original version, Hunter’s character died at the end, but after poor previews, a new ending was shot where he lived, and in the last shot, he is shown getting married.

Although he considered Lafayette Escadrille a “personal project,” the studio did not give Wellman the budget he demanded and interfered with the project. Wellman was devastated by the process, and kept his word that Lafayette Escadrille would be his last film.

Cast
Tab Hunter as Thad Walker
Etchika Choureau as Renée Beaulieu
Marcel Dalio as Drill Sergeant
David Janssen as “Duke” Sinclair
Paul Fix as U.S. General
Veola Vonn as The Madam
Will Hutchins as Dave Putnam
Clint Eastwood as George Moseley
Robert Hover as Dave Judd
Tom Laughlin as Arthur Blumenthal
Brett Halsey as Frank Baylies

Credits:

Produced, directed by William A. Wellman
Produced by William A. Wellman
Screenplay by Albert Sidney Fleischman, story by William A. Wellman
Narrated by William A. Wellman
Music by Leonard Rosenman
Cinematography William H. Clothier
Edited by Owen Marks

Production company and distribution: Warner Bros.

Release date: March 1958

Running time: 93 minutes

TCM showed the movie on October 1, 2020