Saw this movie for the first time last night. It is a morality play about project management, something I suppose movie makers know a fair bit about. I'm not the first to notice this. I couldn't help rooting for Alec Guiness as he stood up for his beliefs, the founding principle of which was the officers shouldn't do manual labor, they were needed for leadership. Leaders must lead. I've said the same thing myself, and Tom DeMarco said it before me. How many times have you seen upper management tell middle management that they better get in there and do some of the work-work-type-work themselves? That's why I found Alec Guiness's situation so compelling. Eventually upper management, in the form of Sessue Hayakawa, gave in, and the project turned around.
(Still, in the movie, they did hit a point, near the end of the project, where the officers volunteered to do manual labor. At some point on your project, the planning is done, the course is set, and a lead will have some free time to pitch in and fix some bugs or light some texture maps. Don't count on it, but use it if you've got it.)
Let's see, what else: schedule tracking. Sessue Hayakawa was tracking the schedule but it didn't do him a lot of good: all he knew was that the bridge was late and becoming later. Schedule tracking is useless unless you take action when the schedule slips - it's hard to reduce scope when you're building a bridge (or filming a movie, I bet. Scope reduction is a secret weapon game developers have that I imagine most project managers don't get to use), so you either have to add resources or push your ship date back.
But sometimes it's not a shortage of resources but a shortage of resourcefulness. Sessue Hayakawa, by (finally) allowing Alec Guiness to take command of the project, made the resources more effective; also, Alec Guiness found extra resources by asking for volunteers from the infirmary to do some of the "light work." Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention, and you can get more done by simply requiring it, but I think what you typically will see happen then is like from the Michael Keaton movie *Gung Ho*, where you do manage to ship on time but it's crap.
When a ragtag band turns into a well-oiled machine, a la *Major League* and *Bridge*, it gets me every time. Haven't actually seen it in real life, though: all I've seen is a ragtag band become slightly less ragtag, and enough less ragtag than all the other ragtag bands out there that we still get work. But hey, that's something, right?