Review

  • BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER is the U.S. title for this film which I missed seeing when originally released. It was a pleasure seeing it for the first time tonight on TCM. RALPH RICHARDSON once again plays a father who was emotionally distant from his son (DENHOLM ELLIOT) and daughter (ANN TODD) and shows more concern for the progress of scientific investigation in solving the problem of supersonic flight than the welfare of individuals who sacrifice their lives to please him. He shows more constraint here as the father than he did in THE HEIRESS a few years previous.

    Under David Lean's direction, the film moves briskly through a series of events involved in breaking the sound barrier through jet propulsion at a time when the aircraft industry was making great strides after WWII.

    While the characters are fictional, so are the events depicted, since a British airman was not the first to break the sound barrier--something that American pilot Chuck Yaeger was quick to point out when he was invited to attend the world premiere of the film in London. It was broken by an American pilot as early as 1947.

    Tension between Richardson and his children helps make the fictional story more compelling and the acting by RALPH RICHARDSON, NIGEL PATRICK (as Ann Todd's pilot husband) and ANN TODD is excellent.

    Summing up: Interesting from many viewpoints despite being a bit too talky with a good background score from Malcolm Arnold.