What starts as a boy's adventure film quickly becomes one of the most disturbing dissections of masculinity and nationalism. I don't think anyone quite knew how to unseat his audience better than Aldrich; he snuck into genres and cut up the tropes until you could barely recognize them. Very troubling and absolutely gripping.
The sole feminine elements of the movie are a mirage and, as a metaphor, the plane patiently built by the characters. James Stewart is at his best when he plays morally ambiguous characters. Recommended.