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  • "The High and the Mighty", the granddaddy of air disaster movies, often falls into almost campy melodrama, but under the direction of the legendary 'Wild Bill' Wellman, and punctuated by one of Dimitri Tiomkin's most bombastic yet exciting scores (earning him an Oscar), the film maintains such a level of intensity that it remains constantly entertaining. With John Wayne heading an ensemble cast (including several co-stars from the past, as well as personal friends), it is certainly an essential for any 'Duke' film library.

    Produced by Wayne-Fellows Productions, and 'owned', eventually, by the Wayne family's Batjac Productions (along with "Hondo", "McLintock!", and "Island in the Sky"), the film was a BIG hit, when released, and offered one of Wayne's better performances, then gained even greater stature as it was unseen for a generation. I've always held the belief that the family planned to release the entire quartet of films in 2007, to mark the centennial of Duke's birth, but two events changed the plan; first, an unauthorized, 'remixed' VHS version of "McLintock!" was released, with rumors that a version of "Hondo" was also in the works, forcing Michael Wayne, then President of Batjac, to release authorized VHS versions of the two films, rather than have the market glutted with bad copies; second, with Michael's death, in 2003, the Wayne family rethought the master plan, deciding to release the entire collection on DVD earlier. For whatever reason, seeing "The High and the Mighty" again is a cause to celebrate!

    Based on Ernest K. Gann's bestseller (which would inspire Arthur Hailey's later novel, "Airport"), the story centers around a routine commercial flight between Honolulu and San Francisco, which becomes a life-and-death drama when one engine explodes, just beyond the 'Point of No Return'. With limited fuel, in deteriorating weather, the crisis brings out the best and worst in both passengers and crew.

    Wayne as the co-pilot, is quite good, playing a character older than he actually was (the role had been written for Spencer Tracy, who pulled out, just prior to filming); Robert Stack almost foreshadows his character in "Airplane!" as the no-nonsense pilot who goes ballistic when stressed. For cockpit 'overacting', however, the award has to go to Wally Brown, as the navigator, with his bugged-out eyes, visions of his shrewish wife, and WILDLY unruly hair...

    While the passengers are all stereotypes, several actors are quite good in their roles, with standout performances by Claire Trevor and Jan Sterling (both Oscar-nominated), Robert Newton, Paul Kelly, and Paul Fix. While Phil Harris attempts to inject humor into his role, it only works sporadically (and Ann Doran, as his wife, plays 'hysterical' so convincingly that you want to STRANGLE her!) Laraine Day, third-billed (and, with Trevor, a previous Wayne leading lady), is remarkably unlikable as a rich wife with a 'bought' husband (John Howard); Sidney Blackmer plays the 'mandatory' unbalanced type; and veteran character actor John Qualen adds another 'ethnic' portrayal to his long list, as a Latin family man (with a Norwegian accent!) A bit of trivia: The young boy on board was portrayed by director Wellman's son!

    Almost as fascinating as the story is seeing how much has changed, since the film was released; the plane's 'tail' is controlled by pulleys and wires in a rear compartment; the sole flight attendant is a "stewardess"; and everyone smokes (especially in the cockpit). On a more somber note, there is NO security, and one passenger boards easily, carrying a gun. It is, sadly, a wiser world, today...

    While no one would ever accuse "The High and the Mighty" of being a film classic, it's role in creating the 'airplane disaster' genre can't be denied, and it continues to be a vastly enjoyable John Wayne feature.

    It's great to have it back!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's sad that THE HIGH AND MIGHTY has vanished into thin air. The Ernest Gann novel was translated into a star-filled drama of the highest degree. This was the first movie I attended upon my return from Korea in l954 and the memory of this movie is still vivid as is THE QUIET MAN which was one of the last movies I viewed before leaving for Korea. As you can see, I am an unabashed fan of the Duke and in these two movies he displayed an acting range that had been barely recognized by the average movie-goer. THE HIGH AND MIGHTY is unique because almost all of the action is inside a stricken luxury airliner and the director,William Wellman,had the nerve to photograph this action in a wide-screen process. But Wayne as the first officer,Dan Roman,is not the only outstanding character although it is Roman's steadfast belief in his skills and the aircraft that brings the passengers to safety. Robert Stack as the Captain, Paul Fix as an aging passenger, Phil Harris as a jokester who has just endured a painful vacation in Hawaii with his wife, John Howard and Lorraine Day as an at-odds married couple, David Brian(Mr,D.A.) as a man suspected by Sidney Blackmer of being the gentleman in whom Blackmer's wife is having an affair and Doe Avedon as the flight attendant all play major roles in this dated, but still relevant movie. But the ladies, Claire Trevor and Jan Sterling as hardened women of the evening also bring to us a mix of pathos, self doubt and humor. John Qualen, a fixture in a number of John Wayne movies,plays a patented role as a simple fisherman on his way home to his rather large family. Paul Kelly plays a disillustioned scientist. The story of THE HIGH AND MIGHTY ,written by Ernest Gann, is simple; A four-engined aircraft bound for San Francisco from Hawaii, has an engine explode and hang at a precarious angle from the wing. The fates of the passengers are in the hands of the flight crew, headed by Robert Stack. The Wayne character, Dan Roman,is a veteran pilot who lost his wife and son in a crash of an airliner he was piloting years before.While the drama is unfolding in the cockpit the passengers review their lives and most make promises to change if they survive. Wayne's character has to convince the captain that they can make it to the mainland. The action inside the aircraft is electric and more exciting that any of the aircraft disaster movies that followed. Of course John Wayne prevails and the passengers walk off into a rainy San Francisco night to return to the lives they had known before they made their promises. Dimitri Tiomkin's score is highlighted by threading the familiar HIGH AND MIGHTY theme throughout the movie. The closing scene is classic; Wayne walking with a limp into the foggy evening and whistling the theme. Ernest Gann's novel rings true because of his first-hand knowledge of aviation. As the author of several flying novels, most notably FATE IS THE HUNTER, Gann is able to make us understand that flying in those days was a mixture of wisdom, experience and a feeling in the seat-of-the-pants. I give this adaptation the highest marks although the story is dated, the characters are of another age and the formula is now tried-and-true. But the story does emphasis that there are unseen heroes that walk among us and come forth when needed.How many times did John Wayne portray this character?
  • The release of The High and the Mighty coincidentally came out at the same time I Love Lucy shifted it's locale from New York to Hollywood and star crazy Lucy Ricardo was stalking all the big film stars of the day. I still remember when Lucy stole John Wayne's footprints outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre and that never to be forgotten line she said to him about his latest film quoted above.

    I think a lot of people felt that way about The High and the Mighty. I was lucky to see it when it was broadcast in 1979 the week of the Duke's demise. I had seen it earlier, but it has not been broadcast since. And that's a pity because this film is a four star winner in every respect.

    This was produced by John Wayne as well as starring him and it is the second work he did with director William Wellman. In fact Ernest K. Gann wrote the novel this was based on and he also wrote the book that the Wayne-Wellman combination tackled in their first endeavor, Island in the Sky. That too, has not been broadcast for years, but I've seen it also.

    In fact if you look at the credits, all the Wellman behind the camera crew is virtually the same. One big addition for The High and the Mighty is Dimitri Tiomkin, writer of so many wonderful film scores for the Duke and others. Previous to this Tiomkin had done that outstanding score for Red River for Wayne another milestone picture for him. The only Oscar the film won was for it's score.

    It's one of the great movie themes of all time and not too many people know this, but there were lyrics by Ned Washington. The theme was also in the Best Song award category, but lost to Secret Love. Probably because I can't recall a vocal recording done of it. Lots of instrumentals though, a big seller.

    In this Grand Hotel cast, actresses Claire Trevor and Jan Sterling both got nominated in The Best Supporting Actress category, but lost to Eva Marie Saint. It's almost a shame that those two performances got singled out because the whole cast was brilliant. It's always the mark of a good film that even the most minute character roles are fully developed and remembered. Case in point: In The High and the Mighty Douglas Fowley as a ground attendant at the beginning of the movie and Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez as a ship's radio operator have tiny parts, but you will remember both.

    The plot concerns a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco which develops engine problems and a fuel loss. After that the suspense doesn't let up for one micro-second of film. Lots of flashbacks are well integrated into the plot. Flashbacks about the crew and the passengers. All of their lives are laid bare in brief vignettes. Two passenger performances I liked besides Trevor and Sterling were Paul Kelly as the cynical scientist and Robert Newton as the jaded Broadway producer.

    The crew of course is headed by Robert Stack as pilot and John Wayne as co-pilot. In his memoirs Stack said the role of Sullivan was one of his favorites and he paid a heartfelt tribute to producer/co-star John Wayne. Wayne was a controversial guy, most of his co-stars liked to work with him, a few didn't. Stack was one of his biggest boosters as a performer and his tribute to the Duke should be read by all John Wayne fans.

    Thank the Deity that a new generation of cinema fans will finally get to see John Wayne at his very best as Dan Roman. The unavailability of Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty have not been good for fans and critics discussing John Wayne's work. His work with both John Ford and Howard Hawks has been rehashed time and again, but no one ever talks about his three films with William Wellman which in my book renders all discussions about him as an actor up to now quite pointless. Why he was overlooked in the Oscar sweepstakes that year is a mystery.

    Wayne had one of the best faces for closeups ever in screen history. Top directors like Ford, Hawks, and Wellman knew that and used him to best advantage. Both in Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty, Bill Wellman caught a lot of the anguish and determination in closeups that said more than a page of dialog. Both as Dooley in Island in the Sky and as Dan Roman here, Wayne plays a character who is not battling bad guys, but a bad situation. In both he's the leader of a group of people who's lives are in his hands and he can't show weakness. None of the usual screen fights are in either of his Wellman roles. It's the elements and fear that are the bad guys that have to be licked.

    It's a pity they didn't do more actor/director classics like these two films, Wellman and Wayne. They did work together on Blood Alley, but it doesn't hold a candle to the first two films. Bill Wellman actually did work for the Duke once again in a film Wayne produced, but did not star in called Goodbye My Lady in 1956. Wellman retired two years later.

    The High and the Mighty represents an artistic triumph and a commercial one. When it came out, John Wayne was at the height of his career, in the midst of a string of years as number one at the box office. Catch this film by all means if you can. With it coming out on DVD, maybe it will finally be broadcast again on AMC or TCM.
  • Several younger reviewers, posing as critics, have projected their post-1994 angst onto "The High and the Mighty". They have tried to make its virtues into defects I suggest because they have failed to understand the normative, non-surreal self-responsibility requirements that individuals in the 1950s tacitly accepted as their price for exercising U.S. rights under regulation. They also do not understand apparently that this flight was being undertaken as a very-long flight, and barely seven years after the end of WWII. One complained that there was talk of disaster from the beginning; I found none except some fear on the part of one neurotic passenger. And there is something else that needs to be said about the film. It was directed by William Wellman, aviation's greatest champion in Hollywood history. That may be one reason why the resulting film is in my judgment the most realistic portrayal of a 1950s airport, airplane crew, airplane flight and airplane disaster-near disaster film in history--to this day... I flew on prop planes in 1950; this is the real thing. As for the emotional belief that it is "corny', its script telegraphs some of its punches concerning passengers' ideas, but only the surreal philosophy of statist-postmodernist thinkers could see in this beautifully- thought-out film as anything but what most viewers believe it to be--the very entertaining fictional account of a distrusted loner saving an entire planeload of interesting passengers from a physical disaster to whose impending happening each reacts in his own individual way. The film opens at Honolulu Airport as flight 420 is being readied for takeoff. A succession of passengers come to the desk manned by an airline official and the flight's stewardess; so the viewer is thus cleverly allowed to discover a good bit about each one at the same time as do the refreshingly judgmental pair of officers. At the same time, we are told the story of nice-guy Dan Roman, played by John Wayne; he was the pilot of a plane that once ran into wind shear; the rear of that plane was destroyed; on impact.; he survived the death of his wife and son to fly again. The list of those aboard is long and fascinating. In addition to cynical young crewman William Campbell, uxorious navigator Wally Brown, up-tight young Robert Stack and Wayne, we meet Sidney Blackmer, overwrought and insistent; ebullient Phil Harris and his wife Ann Doran, sensible and prolific Johna Qualen, intelligent Claire Trevor, Jan Sterling as an aging beauty queen worried about meeting her new mail-contact fiancée, handsome couple John Smith and Karen Sharpe as newlyweds, Paul Fix who is elderly and unflappable, Dorothy Chen, John Howard, flight-fearing Robert Newton and his loyal wife lovely Julie Bishop, secret-keeping Paul Kelly and dynamic David Brian, and a little boy, among others. The story develops as the great airplane shudders in mid-air; gradually a crisis develops with an engine losing power. Then it is hit by a bullet, and a fire disables it and must be extinguished. The exact number of gallons of high-octane fuel aboard then becomes critical. The threat of a disaster is told in five parts--the inception; examinations and worsenings; the potential of having to ditch is faced; Wayne forces Stack to try for the coast instead of ditching; and the final climax plays out as the onshore wind gives them their last chance to make one try at the runway--with ultimately only 30 gallons of fuel left. As the potential problem develops, the passengers and crew must deal with the film's plot-theme--"taking charge of one's own life"; one man pulls a gun on the man he suspects of having made love to his wife; others have to be stopped from screaming, others face issues long put aside, others express regrets, hopes or fears; others demand or ask for information; and the crew face their own problems as well. Uniting the whole taut drama is the towering experience, calm and underplaying by Wayne and the thin-voice maturity, intelligence and normalcy of Doe Avedon as the chief stewardess. The other unusual feature of the film is Wellman's use of extended flashbacks for a number of persons, which is a feature that indicates to viewers information as well as passage of time. Here it is used in several innovative ways-to indicate character, to reinforce dramatic points and to strengthen the presentation of values such as a nuclear scientist's reasons for quitting his job, etc. The script for the novel was written by the author of the original novel "The High and the Mighty", aviation fiction expert Ernest K. Gann. The cinematography was done by Archie J. Stout, and the music which uses Wayne whistling the main theme among other presentations was done by Dimitri Tiomkin, co-author of the famous and popular title song, which was a hit both with and without lyrics. Among the solid cast also one should note Regis Toomey, Laraine Day, Douglas Kennedy, and Gonzales Gonzales. Among the main characters, Wayne, David Brian, Sindey Blackmer, Claire Trevor, John Howard, Julie Bishop, Robert Newton, Phil Harris, John Qualen and Robert Stack all do standout work. The scene where luggage is jettisoned to lighten the plane, the gradual revelation of the aircraft's problems, the dialogue sequences and the entire atmosphere of the film--as well as the gripping climactic approach to San Francisco--are all memorable.achievements in my view. Watch for Wayne's explanation that they will probably have to ditch, addressed to all the passengers. This is a nearly-great and unarguably a deservedly popular film.
  • Mike-7644 October 2005
    Trans Ocean Pacific's flight from Honolulu to San Francisco seems to proceed with no problems until one of the four engines catches fire midway on the flight which causes one of the gas tanks to leak. The crew tries to prepare to land the plane in the bay to be rescued, while experienced co-pilot Dan Roman conserve the remaining fuel to get the plane to land in the San Francisco Airport. The widely heterogeneous group of passengers which include a disgruntled man who believes his wife had an affair with one of the other passengers, a female who is hoping her man will love her despite her age, a couple on the brink of divorce, and others have to make the best of their situation and hope its not the last moments they will spend alive. Very good film that took forever to get to DVD, but seems to be worth it. Excellent performances by all and Tiomkin's score is excellent and so memorable you'll be whistling or humming it for days. The film (like many air disaster epics) seems to run a bit too long, but there is a lot of emotion to be played out here. Rating 8.
  • Probably the most popular film that has never been released to any video medium, The High and the Mighty is th4e granddaddy of all of those disaster pictures that became popular in the 70s, but they do not hold a candle to this one.

    The Wayne Family in general, and I would assume sons Michael and Patrick in particular, own the film along with some others. One has to wonder why they do not release it. I have a copy I recorded from HBO many years ago and when aired it was a great print. I am fortunate to be able to see it now and then at my own leisure.

    The plot of a crippled airliner in the middle of the Pacific doesn't accurately describe this film. It is a true character study with some of the finest actors of the day on hand delivering brilliant performances. Those that stand out include Jan Sterling (oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner), Claire Trevor (Oscar nominated), Phil Harris, Robert Newton, and David Brian. But each and every one in the rest of the cast can take a bow for a job well done. And That includes Wayne himself. His Dan Roman is complete, a man with strengths and weaknesses, but a man who eventually is the only one to step up in a time of crisis. It is one of his best performances.

    William Wellman's direction keeps the film moving, Dimitri Tiomkin's Oscar winning score had viewers whistling along with Whistling Dan.

    Mike and Pat, please let this one out before it becomes an antique. A new generation of your father's fans await this classic. It is not fair to deny them their chance to see him. And by the way. John Wayne was not the original choice to play Dan Roman. When He acquired the rights to the film he just wanted to produce it ( a la Bullfighter and the Lady). His choice wanted to play the role, but schedule conflicts prevented this, thus John Wayne had to play the role he offered to Spencer Tracy
  • Soundtrack music is important. Try thinking of 'Star Wars' without John Williams' symphonic score, and you'll see what I'm saying. Dimitri Tiomkin knew exactly how to write for this picture, and how to move the audience, for without his classic and at times choral-accentuated theme and the rousing orchestral cues throughout, this would have been merely a good film rather than the near-great film that it is. Had it been made this year, for example, using a contemporary film composer, I believe TH&TM wouldn't carry it off.

    There doesn't seem to be a replacement for Tiomkin on the horizon, and we couldn't afford to lose him.

    The best lines belong to Jan Sterling (that cosmetics scene is still gripping), Robert Newton, and lovely Claire Trevor, and there's a great low-keyed, anticlimactic finale.

    A Nine from me.
  • When I read the comments of others who say this movie "does not wear well," I have to laugh at much of the trash Hollywood has made the last few years. Much of what is made today doesn't even stand up against today's low standards.

    The High and the Mighty actually has a STORY and characters who have conflicts, hopes, fears and loves.

    I was a young boy of about six when our family flew the first United Airlines DC-7 flight from Honolulu to San Francisco. I can remember what it was like to hang high above the Pacific for many hours with four massive radial engines roaring outside the cabin. This movie captures the realism of such a flight.

    This movie also brings back memories of how passengers DRESSED UP to fly in those days. The sloppy appearance of today's airline passengers is in marked contrast to the class exhibited by airline passengers of the fifties.

    I even remember the Honolulu Airport of the early fifties and the look of the counters and can remember the fragrance of fresh flower leis as we walked through the airport. I remember how we walked out into the sunshine to board the plane by climbing steps to the cabin door.

    Yes, this movie is a different world. It's Hawaii as a U.S. Territory, as when I lived there. It's a throwback to a time when pilots were fresh from a World War. Men acted more like gentlemen then, as they do in this movie, and ladies had a lot more class before our modern age made it acceptable for both sexes to be so crass.

    The writing may seem archaic by modern Hollywood standards but it fit perfectly the era in which it was made and gives us a wonderful glimpse of the beginning of the golden age of commercial aviation.

    This movie captures all of this brilliantly and provides a complex mix of characters living an ominous threat to their survival.

    I loved it as a boy and love it now. I bought the Special Edition DVD just recently and love it immensely.

    It has a lengthy series of featurettes and will surely please lovers of John Wayne and the rest of the cast and of this movie in particular.

    As an additional footnote, I want to add the following: In the late 1970's, after I received my own private pilot's license, and after reading one of Ernest K. Gann's other books, I wrote a fan letter to Mr. Gann, with my comments about sharing his love of flying. It was simply addressed to him at San Juan Island, Washington. I was overjoyed to receive a very nice personal reply from this talented writer of the book and screenplay, "The High and the Mighty." He was a brilliant writer and his writing really captured the essence of flying in those golden years.
  • I saw The High and the Mighty when I was 16 in a theater when it first came out. Every woman walked out in love with John Wayne and every man wanted to BE John Wayne. We all hummed, whistled or la-la-la'd the theme song all the way home.

    I would love to add The High and the Mighty to my collection of John Wayne films, but the Wayne Family Trust has got to allow this film to be converted to either a DVD or a VHS format. I know they are waiting for the time when they can squeeze the maximum number of dollars out of it, but if they aren't careful, they will wait too long and the world will have moved so far beyond the ideas, concepts and technology of the 50's that the film will not appeal to the younger generation of purchasers of movies.

    It's more than just Wayne's performance that is being withheld from the public. I am also a great admirer of the work of the great British actor, Robert Newton and he turned in a marvelous performance here. So did Jan Sterling, Claire Trevor, Paul Fix, Lorraine Day and all the rest of the cast. Their fans deserve to see these actors in this film too. The only actor I could live without is Robert Stack. He has never done a thing for me. But the film as a whole is wonderful and should be released...ASAP
  • I just got done watching the DVD edition of this 1950s "peril in the plane" picture. Some fans have been extraordinarily critical of it saying it is full of "clichés" and unbelievable situations. What many of these critics seem to forget is that this film was made in the 1950's. You can't compare movies of that era with this era. If you want movies without clichés, then the director, screenwriters, and actors would have to have much more freedom than was allowed in the 1950s. The censorship boards of that time would not allow certain language in those days. Also remember that movies of that age where much more plot and character driven than today's Special Effects Bonanzas.

    To me the thing about this movie that made it enjoyable was that there was a certain amount of tension. The script took time to give us some character studies of the passengers. We actually care for some of the passengers at the end of the movie. Any movie that puts you on the end of you seat worrying about the fate of the characters has done its job.

    So for those of you who nit pick about clichés, unbelievable situations, melodrama etc. This film was produced as entertainment, not as a treatise on believability in movie stories.

    The main question.....Did this movie entertain. The answer is a resounding YES.
  • This is a predecessor in the "Airport" series that achieved splendor in the 70s and 80s . It's exciting and entertaining but overlong , full clichés and stereotypes with passable acting by all star cast . The 2-year best seller written by Ernest K Gann blasts to the screen with every kind of love , thrills , and intrigue . During the initial scenes in Hawaii, characters are shown showing passports prior to boarding the airplane (this is because at the time the movie was filmed, Hawaii was not yet an actual state) . As when a commercial airliner develops engine problems on a trans-Pacific voyage , then a pilot called captain Sullivan (Robert Stack ; producer John Wayne chose Robert Cummings as his co-star for the role ; Director William A. Wellman, however, overrode his producer and chose Stack for the part) loses his nerve but co-pilot named Dan Roman (John Wayne) gets to bring the plane in safely . Meanwhile , the passengers are helped by a flight attendant named Lydia Rice (Laraine Day) but suffer every range of problems and remember by means of flashbacks , such as May Holst (Claire Trevor) , Clara Joseph (Ann Doran) , Jose Locota (John Qualen) , Frank Briscoe (Paul Fix) , Gustave Pardee (Robert Newton), Ed Joseph (Phil Harris) and Sally McKee (Jan Sterling, reportedly shaved her eyebrows for her role in the film and they never grew back) , among others . The airplane heading to San Francisco from Hawaii has a dangerous journey .

    The picture contains drama , suspense , moderate tension and is quite entertaining although with some flaws and gaps . Plastic acting and stock characters detailing a hectic flight . The film is detailing hectic flighty piloted by a nervous pilot and the relationship among passengers . All clichéd and stock roles with regurgitation of all usual stereotypical situations from disaster films . John Wayne's role was first offered to Spencer Tracy. However, Tracy, a liberal Democrat who fiercely opposed the blacklisting of alleged "subversives" in Hollywood that was rampant at the time, wanted nothing to do with Wayne, an arch-conservative Republican who strongly supported blacklisting and whose Batjac company was producing the film, and turned the part down. Filmmaker Wellman was an expert pilot , as during his World War I service as an aviator and shooting various pictures about aviation theme such as ¨Wings¨, ¨The young eagles¨, ¨Central airport¨ , ¨Island in the Sky¨ and ¨Lafayette Escadrille¨ . In the 1950s Wellman's best later films starred John Wayne, including this influential aviation picture for which he achieved his third and last best director Oscar nomination . Colourful cinematography ,and final film of veteran cinematographer Archie Stout ; furthermore cameraman helper William Clothier , being John Wayne's first film in CinemaScope. Emotive as well as unforgettable musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin , the lyrics to the famed title song are only heard at the very end, are sung by a large choral group.

    This old-fashioned motion picture was professionally directed by William A Wellman . He was called "Wild Bill" during his World War I service as a pilot , a nickname that persisted in Hollywood due to his larger-than-life personality and lifestyle . Wellman was an expert in all kind of genres as Gangster, drama , Film Noir , Western and adept at comedy as he was at macho material , helming the original ¨ A star is born ¨(1937) (for which he won his only Oscar, for best original story) and the biting satire ¨Nothing sacred¨ (1937) , both of which starred Fredric March for producer David O. Selznick . Both movies were dissections of the fame game, as was his satire ¨Roxie Hart¨ (1942), which reportedly was one of Stanley Kubrick's favorite films. During World War Two Wellman continued to make outstanding films, including ¨Ox-Bow incident¨ (1943) and ¨Story of G.I.Joe¨(1945), and after the war he turned out another war classic, ¨Battleground¨ (1949). His final film hearkened back to his World War One service, ¨The Lafayette squadron¨ (1958), which featured the unit in which Wellman had flown . He retired as a director after making the film, reportedly enraged at Warner Bros.' post-production tampering with a movie that meant so much to him .
  • The High and the Mighty might be called Muzzy Marcellino's movie since it was his wonderful, masterful whistling of the theme that made this movie not just good, but great. It is a pity that his talents were not more appreciated, but then most people think that anyone can whistle a sonorous tune. Far from it! Very few people could whistle in orchestral color and range which is what this man did for Dimitri Tiomkin's wonderful score which well deserved the 1955 Academy Award for "Best Music" and Scoring. Yes, John Wayne did indeed make the film his own and turned in a multi-layered performance, and yes, this is the granddaddy of the 'disaster films,' which has never been surpassed in quality, but its distinction is not the primacy, nor the casting, nor even the story by a professional pilot, but the distinctive music - distinctly rendered - which one may not notice at first, but which imbues this non-epic with the caliber of stardom.

    I can remember when I was in high school in the '60s some ten years after the movie was released (I have never seen it since) and Mr. Marcellino was a guest at one of our assemblies and demonstrated his amazing versatility at whistling and even performed the letters of the alphabet as an example of how he had mastered his craft. His range was phenomenal as he portrayed the instruments of the orchestra and then performed the entire Rhapsody in Blue as well as popular works all by whistling without accompaniment, but admitted that the theme for TH&TM was his proudest achievement. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has never recognized the contributions of all musical forms to the success of pictures as gauged from their mention in passing at the annual telecast Oscar ceremonies, but if they had, this singular performance would have been guaranteed a Special Oscar. Truly, once it is heard, neither it nor the film can ever be forgotten, but will haunt one for years to come! This classic film is the fitting epitaph for Messrs. Wayne, Tiomkin, and Marcellino. Would that we all could be remembered for such an achievement.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Before "Airport," before any of the disaster movies of the '70s, there was "The High and the Mighty," a much loved 1954 film directed by William Wellman and with a tremendous cast: John Wayne, Robert Stack, Claire Trevor, Jan Sterling, Laraine Day, Phil Harris, Robert Newton, David Brian, Sidney Blackmer, William Campbell, Paul Fix, Ann Doran, John Smith, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, Regis Toomey, William Hopper and William Schallert. It was a nice mix of old faces and faces that were new at the time.

    "The High and Mighty" is dated now, but that's what makes it as interesting today as it was popular in its time. Someday no one will remember that you used to be able to smoke on planes; that people waited outside the terminal as the plane landed; that your loved ones could accompany you to the gate to see you off; and that services on a plane were so personalized.

    Wayne plays pilot Dan Roman, who lost his family in an air disaster where he was at the helm; he is second in command to John (Robert Stack). The plane is populated with honeymooners (John Smith and Karen Sharpe), a couple returning from a disastrous vacation (Ann Doran and Phil Harris), a blonde (Jan Sterling) who's been around the block going to meet a man she's been corresponding with (William Hopper), an unhappily married couple (Laraine Day and John Howard), a child of divorce going to visit his mother, a successful businessman (David Brian), a lonely woman (Claire Trevor), a frail old man (Paul Fix) - an assortment of people. In the beginning, there are subtle signs that the plane has a malfunction, but it later becomes apparent that the plane may have to land in the ocean.

    Unlike some disaster movies (like the recent horror, Poseidon), we get to know and have feelings for many of these characters as they interact and we learn their stories. Among the most striking performances are those of the women - Sterling, Trevor, and Day, who looks beautiful though her movie star days are past. Sterling has one of the stronger stories - she's 8 years older than the photo she sent the man she's about to meet, and she's terrified that he'll reject her. In a stunning moment, she removes all of her makeup and says that she will meet him as she is.

    Even in death, John Wayne remains in the top ten box office stars, an astounding accomplishment. A controversial figure to say the least, he had something that still speaks to the public. I've personally always preferred him out of a cowboy outfit as he is here. There's a solidity about Wayne, a no-nonsense, honest delivery tinged with warmth and humor, most vividly seen here when he is talking to the passengers about a possible crash landing.

    For me, the film was overly long with possibly the most distracting musical score I've ever heard. The movie also has some slow patches. But it's easy to see why it's so beloved, and its downbeat ending is unforgettable. I saw this movie as a child and remembered none of it except the very end.

    It's a shame that over the years, Hollywood has lost the art of the build-up and of story-telling. In a disaster movie, the disasters happen much earlier today, and the films mostly give us stereotyped characters so we can get right to the special effects. Filmmakers and writers should go back to "The High and the Mighty" to see how it was done and done well if not perfectly. They had stories and people then.
  • I went to the DVD premiere screening of THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY tonight (12 June 2005) at Paramount studios. It was a big red-carpet event, and I saw a number of people associated with the film there, though there are a scant handful of the cast still surviving. Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, William Campbell, and Robert Easton were there, and from bits of applause during the screening, I suspect that a few others were there as well. Of course, all of the major character players are gone: Wayne, Stack, Trevor, Day, Sterling, Harris, Newton, Brian, Kelly, Blackmer, and Qualen. Other than Karen Sharpe and William Schallert, I'm not certain whether anyone yet unmentioned is still alive. Doe Avedon probably is (she was really lovely as the flight attendant).

    As some have speculated, there's no way for this film to live up to the hype that has grown up because of its near-forty year unavailability. It's been beautifully restored. The picture quality seems to my uneducated eye to be impeccable, and the sound is really magnificent. And there are some moments of nice performance, particularly by Wayne, Robert Stack, Jan Sterling, and John Qualen. But as much as I would love to say this is a resurrected masterpiece, it simply isn't possible for me to do so honestly. After AIRPLANE!, I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect people to take a Fifties airliner disaster movie seriously. But the level of corn and hokum and treacle and syrup in which the film wallows (especially in the primary sections dealing with the passengers rather than the crew) is simply intolerable in today's world. I'm not referring to the fact that it's a different practical world now, one in which it would be ludicrous to show a passenger pulling a gun on another passenger on an airliner of today. I'm referring rather to the simple unbelievability of the human behavior exhibited. I'm willing to accept a passenger getting aboard a trans-Pacific airliner with a gun in his pocket in 1954. I'm not willing to accept him pulling that gun, threatening other passengers with it, having it taken from him, and later having it handed back to him just because he says, "I'm all right now, I've calmed down." Phil Harris, fifty at the time and looking sixty, plays a 38-year-old, and 43-year-old Ann Doran plays his 30-year-old wife. Laraine Day berates her husband and demands a divorce, and good ol' Phil says to the husband, "You think you got problems?" and proceeds to tell him about how rain and crummy hotels ruined his vacation, and the husband (John Howard) thus sees his own life in a new perspective. Every cliché imaginable comes into play, and rarely is there a moment that can be easily swallowed, even with Herculean efforts to place oneself mentally in the zeitgeist of the film.

    Only in the cockpit are things comparatively realistic and believable, and even there big pills must be swallowed. One of the reasons John Wayne comes off so well in this film is he has relatively little to say. It's probably the lowest line-count of any of Wayne's leading roles, and thus unsaddled with the maudlinities and sappiness of the dialog the passengers are stuck with, he comes off better than anyone in the picture. Spencer Tracy was supposed to play Wayne's role but turned it down (according to various stories) either because he thought the script was lousy or he didn't want to work for taskmaster William Wellman. I'm betting on the former reason.

    There are still things to like in THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (Dimitri Tiomkin's Oscar-winning score among them), but an awful lot of people have been waiting forty years to see this "masterwork" again, and an awful lot of them are going to be either seriously disappointed or forced to convince themselves that it's not as bad as it seems.
  • dtucker8614 September 2003
    I was just sitting in my barrack's room watching this film today and I am so lucky to have it. It is a priceless treasure and it is what a great film is all about. It is a classic and I wish that everyone could see it. I cannot believe how selfish and wrong John Wayne's family are to keep the public from seeing this classic. SHAME ON THEM!!!!They are hiding a priceless treasure from all of us. THIS IS JOHN WAYNE"S FINEST FILM EVER!!!!He won an Academy Award for True Grit and should have won one for his portrayal of Dan Roman in this film. In 1988, they re-released The Manchurian Candidate so that a whole new generation of film goers could enjoy its greatness. They should do the same to this film. They should get the finest film technicians available to do a restoration of it and release it so that people today could see what a great film is. Look at the movies they come out with today, all the filth and violence and filty words they use. It is a disgrace. All the actors in this film do an amazing job.
  • Has there ever been a more majestic film score? Slightly melancholy and beautifully haunting, Dimitri Tiomkin's Academy Award winning music gives us a grand and expansive auditory experience comparable perhaps to what a soaring eagle must feel, in its own way, as it glides high above a landscape of the mundane and the mediocre.

    In the early 50s, people were just getting used to the idea that they could climb aboard a big man-made eagle and soar above cars, buses, and trains. It was a thrilling, but scary, idea, not unlike traveling on the Titanic. And so, with "The High And The Mighty", Hollywood created the first big budget movie that conveyed the idea of risk, in commercial air travel. Throughout the film, the overriding emotion is insecurity, not only among passengers but among the crew as well. Since the film was a cinematic prototype, I can see how its nerve-wracking story would appeal to moviegoers of that era. The film's angelic theme music thus provided inspiration to help viewers overcome their fear of something new and different, something potentially life threatening.

    Since the early 50s, air travel has lost its sense of adventure. The film to us seems quaint and dated. What seemed odd to me, for example, was the ticket counter. The pace was leisurely, and the attention was very personal. Then, on board the plane, the stewardess made sure that the passengers got personalized attention. At one point, even the captain, upon request, reassured a nervous passenger. Those were the days.

    First time viewers also need to be aware that this film is talky and dreamily melodramatic. The emphasis is on story and acting, not special effects or high-powered action. And then there is that final Act. It is different perhaps from what most of us probably would expect. But again, we must take into account the era in which the film was made.

    Fifty years after its release, "The High And The Mighty", as a film, cannot compete with its own theme music. The sweeping orchestration, like music generally, transcends time and spans the generations. By contrast, technology, and mankind's reaction to technology, changes. The film's story thus has a different meaning to us than it did to the original moviegoers. If you can place the film in its proper historic context, you have a better chance of appreciating the film for what it was then, not for what it is now.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    William A. Wellman's The High & The Mighty (1954) might very well be called the 'Grand Hotel' of the wild blue yonder. For it stacks a commercial airliner with an all star crew and passenger list then forces everyone to interact when a mid-air malfunction puts everyone's life in peril. Top billed is legendary hero, John Wayne as co-pilot Dan Roman. Seems Roman is living with demons of a fiery plane crash lurking just beneath the surface. The pilot, John Sullivan (Robert Stack) is a stoic, troubled and neurotic mess who eventually has a complete melt down – forcing Roman to rise to the occasion, take over and land the plane safely. Ah, but will he? The rest of the cast reads like a who's who of forgotten or nearly forgotten character actors, including Sidney Blackmere, Laraine Day, Phil Harris and Claire Trevor. Despite being one of the most sought after titles requested by DVD consumers, the film is really little more than a sensationalist precursor to the highly popular 70s disaster series, Airport. The one curiosity of this disc is that it is a Warner Brothers film presented by Paramount DVD. Apparently a rights issue has allowed the copyright to lapse in the latter's favor.

    Advertised as meticulously restored, the transfer represented on this disc is something of a disappointment to the expectation of pristine image quality. Although the DVD starts out relatively strong, with a very bright and strongly contrasted print element, it quickly degrades into various levels of quality – the worst being near the end of the film when the plane makes its emergency landing in Frisco. In those final reels, the image is overly soft, exhibits some minor edge enhancement and even has a touch of color bleeding. Throughout, flesh tones are not very accurate at all (an inherent flaw of all Warner-Color film stock of the period); they're either excessively pink or a flat orange. Most of the color spectrum tends to mute along a greenish gray, hazy brown balance. At times contrast levels can seem a tad pasty. Blacks are rarely deep or solid. Whites are bluish or yellowish but never a true white. Transitions between scenes exhibit the inherent flaw of all early Cinemascope transfers, with momentary blooming of excessive film grain. Yes, compared to the way this film has looked on television this disc is a resounding improvement. But it does not come anywhere near to the level of quality one would expect from a disc advertised as 'restored and remastered.' The audio is a 5.1 attempt at recapturing the original six track stereo, but it's generally strident and not very natural sounding at all. Extras are too numerous to go into any great detail. There's an overkill of featurettes and newly created documentaries, a bunch of vintage material, stills gallery and theatrical trailers; comprehensive to say the very least.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this movie years ago (I think it was on CBS in 1979 when John Wayne died) and the only thing I remembered was when Wayne slapped Robert Stack. Sadly, it hasn't held up. And this film being one of the inspirations for "Airplane" didn't help - I kept laughing at dialogue that wasn't supposed to be funny! Yes, the film score is memorable and the movie is beautifully shot, but this is one planeload of cardboard characters, stitched together with cornball flashbacks and unintentionally hilarious voice-overs (Stack's rambling inner monologue makes you wonder what he's been smoking). There is, however, one really good moment - Jan Sterling's "makeup" scene. That was very well done, and Sterling really held my attention. Would that the rest of the movie had been as good. I also liked the 50s depiction of air travel - men in suits, women in jewelry and everybody brandishing cigarettes. But that's about all I can recommend. Sorry, John Wayne fans.
  • The Oscar people should give a special award once in a while to someone who delivers a terrific performance in a terrible film. Like Doe Avedon in "The High And The Mighty."

    In an opening sequence that may have inspired the intro to every "Love Boat" episode, Avedon as stewardess Miss Spaulding exchanges corny exposition with a wisecracking clerk as she greets passengers. When it's a producer played by Robert Newton, she compares him to "a tired walrus on a rock." When an ingratiating immigrant maiden (Joy Chen) shows up, Spaulding muses: "A moon and a willow tree."

    All of this Avedon delivers with such finesse you almost think it could be the way humans really talk, somewhere, at some time. Amazingly, she keeps this up for the entire film. Most of her co-stars are less successful at this illusion, until it seems their stricken airliner is held aloft by windy exposition and hot air.

    A dopey script by Ernest K. Gann reveals that while the writer may have known flying and the men who flew, he really didn't have the same handle on average, everyday people. No one is average aboard this flight. Each carries enormous personal luggage, revealed by director William Wellman through long flashbacks and breathless soliloquies.

    "You hate me!" whines the glowering paranoiac (Sidney Blackmer) who brings a gun on board. "All of you hate me, and only because I tried to do what was right!"

    "How can I ever be afraid when you hold me like this?" moans newlywed Nell (Karen Sharpe) to her man.

    "Thanks for knocking some sense into my head," says pilot Sully (Robert Stack) after getting slapped by his co-pilot.

    The co-pilot is played by the film's co-producer, John Wayne, in what is only a nominal leading role, Dan Roman. Often Wayne takes a backseat here, sometimes even literally, though his spotlight moments stand out for his relaxed, sympathetic cool. But even the Duke can't save this sick albatross.

    The big problem here is time. "The High And The Mighty" eats up too much of it before getting to the crisis more than an hour in, with long spotlight sections on most of the 22 people on board. Then, after engine #1 blows, there's exposition bits on the rest of the cast in between the stuff about trying to reach San Francisco without getting a mouthful of the Pacific. It's two-and-a-half hours that never feels like a second less, especially when Phil Harris and Ann Doran, "the Waikiki Kids," tell us of their awful vacation in a painfully overstretched comic flashback.

    In a DVD introduction, critic Leonard Maltin tells us this is "very much a film of its time" and that we need to "step back in time, and meet the movie on its own terms." He wouldn't have had to say that about "Casablanca," or even Wellman's earlier "Public Enemy" and "Wings." The latter film is silent, too. "High And The Mighty isn't a silent. You just wish it were.
  • John Wayne many talents are captured in this 1954 film. Considered by some to be the granddaddy of all disaster films, this film paved the way for the Airport movies and the Irwin Allen disaster movies of the 1970's. The film was a showcase of Hollywood's leading stars of the day. Last shown on network television in Sept. of 1979, HBO in August of 1981 and it's final telecast was on WTBS in Feb. of 1982. President of the Screen Actors Guild in 1980 William Schallert has a small role in the film. Also William Hopper of Perry Mason fame has a small role. This was an important movie in John Wayne's career because not only did he act in it, but he produced as well. A must for all John Wayne fans.
  • "The High and the Mighty" has been hidden away in the John Wayne family vaults for many years. The recent DVD release remedies that and presents this near classic fully restored and uncut. I say near classic because although the film is an exciting and well acted drama, it is nonetheless a little dated and predictable.

    The story involves the flight of a plane load of passengers from Honolulu to San Francisco. Along the way one of the engines fail and it becomes questionable as to whether the plane will make to San Francisco or have to be ditched in the open sea. The crux of the film is how the crew and the passengers react and interact with each other in dealing with the emergency.

    Climbing aboard are the crew, Pilot John Sullivan (Robert Stack), Co-pilot Dan Roman (John Wayne), Second Officer Wheeler (William Campbell), Navigator Lenny Wilby (Wally Brown) and Stewardess Miss Spalding (Doe Avedon). Sullivan is a capable pilot, but can he handle the emergency he faces? Roman is an experienced pilot who was involved in a plane crash from which only he survived and where he lost his wife and child.

    The passenger list includes Claire Trevor as May Holst a past her prime actress, David Brian as Ken Childs a womanizing executive who is attracted to May. Sidney Blackmer plays Agnew who has a score to settle with Childs. John Qualen plays Lacota who keeps an eye on Agnew. Jan Sterling is Sally McKee an aging former beauty queen who is going to meet her pen pal lover (William Hopper) but is unsure of how he will perceive her.

    Laraine Day and John Howard play Lydia and Howard Rice, she an heiress and he the husband trying to make it on his own terms. Phil Harris and Ann Doran are the hapless Ed and Clara Joseph returning from a disastrous second honeymoon, Robert Newton and Julie Bishop as the Pardees, he a self centered theatrical man and she his skeptical wife. John Smith and Karen Sharpe are the newlywed Milo and Nell Buck and Paul Fix is Frank Briscoe a man preparing to die until he meets the quiet and unassuming Dorothy Chen (Joy Kim) with whom he strikes up a new friendship. Young Michael Wellman (the son of Director William Wellman) rounds out the passenger list as Toby Field a little boy on his way to meet his mother.

    Others in the rather large cast are Pedro Gonzoles-Gonzoles as a ship board radio operator, George Chandler as an airport mechanic, Douglas Fowley as a ticket agent, Regis Toomey, William Schallert, Douglas Kennedy and Robert Easton as various airport officials, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as a Coast Guard Co-pilot, Walter Reed as the young boy's father and Phil Van Zandt and Dorothy Ford as the annoying couple who ruin the Joseph's holiday.

    This film was one of the early Cinemascope features. Director William Wellman uses the entire frame effectively and avoids close ups as much as possible. He keeps the story moving and provides us with several sub-plots among the characters. It was one of the first airline disaster movies and certainly the first in Cinemascope and color.

    The DVD contains several behind the scenes documentaries hosted by Leonard Maltin and an interesting feature commentary with Maltin and William Wellman Jr. with contributions from cast members Karen Sharpe and Pedro Gonzoles-Gonzoles.
  • The High and the Mighty is the rare film that has been rendered almost impossible to watch because of the later films that it has inspired. It tells the story, way back in 1954, of a propeller airliner that loses an engine and is in danger of ditching midway through a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco (sound familiar?). The characters on the plane are revealed through dialogue and have self-revelations as a result of their terrifying experience. The pilots grimly try to nurse the plane to safety.

    How can anyone really watch this movie? When the 2nd officer says to John Wayne, "remember that day over South America (when you crashed)," I could only think of Robert Hays and "Macho Grande" from our favorite comedy. Then, of course, Robert Stack gives us his best earnest looks and determined dialogue, and I was expecting someone to say "Don't call me Shirley." Of course, the other "serious" Airport movies that this creature inspired were some of the most insipid cinematic trash in movie history (albeit entertaining trash), so you really wonder if director William Wellmann was thrilled at giving rise to a whole genre that could be considered a blight on the face of film making.

    Still, we have to make some sort of effort to like this movie on its own merits. I will say one thing--it is the only "Airport" movie that actually makes a serious attempt at characterization--this was, after all, made before directors realized that you did not need real characters in order to sell tickets to a disaster flick (Rosie Grier, anyone?). And yet, some of the script is so dated that you wonder if people really talked like that back in 1954. I doubt it.

    And then, there is Dmitri Tiomkin's musical score. Unlike the later Airport movies, which featured lousy music by Hollywood hacks, Tiomkin's score is an amazing symphony in the style of Wagner or Rachmaninoff that, even to a trained ear, is an absolute delight to listen to. Problem is that the score is sitting behind a plane crash drama and bunch of panicky people, and simply seems way out of place. I found myself listening to the music blissfully and wishing everyone would just shut up.

    Oddly enough, as weird as this experience was to watch this movie in 2015, I cannot fully conclude it was a bad movie. The story lines were vaguely interesting, John Wayne gives his usual sympathetic performance, and some scenes were genuinely heartfelt and/or evocative. I enjoyed it. But never has a movie been more completely obliterated by its spin-offs and rip-offs, especially given the fact that it was only decent at best to start with.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This review DEFINITELY contains spoilers, because in order to justify my criticism, I have to make this point: it seems to me - and call me crazy if you will - but doesn't a disaster film have to have a disaster in it somewhere?

    This film does begin by leading you through the typical formula for latter day films of the genre. We are introduced to numerous characters. We are introduced to the minutia of their troubles and hang ups, which is Hollywood's way of fleshing out their humanity. The idea is that when the terrible calamity eventually occurs, we are suppose to really care about what is happening to these folks. Unfortunately, the characters are as dreary and forgettable as their mountain-out-of-mole hill, soap opera-ish problems, and the calamity never occurs.

    And that is what is unique about this "disaster" film: that it is lacking any kind of disaster! The viewer sits through hours of character melodrama and "buildup"of the plane running out of gas just to see the plane safely land on an airport runway (with thirty gallons of fuel to spare, we are told)! And to the strains of Dimitri Tiomkin's heavenly choirs, no less!

    Speaking of which, this is a hideous soundtrack (as usual) by the vastly overrated Tiomkin whose great strength was to make a melodramatic film seem even more so with his lack of subtlety. Unlike a Rozsa, Newman, or even a Korngold, Dimitri's soundtracks have not aged gracefully.

    Tremendous waste of the Duke as well, especially with the embarrassingly woeful gimmick of him perfectly whistling - with the help of all-too obvious dubbing - the main theme throughout the film.

    This film is not ABOUT a disaster, it IS a disaster.
  • OK, I'm not moved to write many of these, but I just saw this movie and feel duty bound to warn the world! I mean, how could you go wrong? John Wayne, Robert Stack, Claire Trevor, directed by William Wellman??? William Wellman, who made James Cagney a star with 'Public Enemy'??? got an Oscar for the original 'Star is Born'??? The guy who directed 7 different actors in Oscar nominated performances??? Well, this film, which did big business in 1959, plays horrendously in 2007!

    First, the writer, Ernest Gann, should be shot for this script, if he wasn't already dead. Every stereotype you can think of is included in these roles; the faded glamour girl, a Korean women who has fortune cookie lines, a guy named 'Swede' who, what else... sounds 'really' Swedish; a poor couple who scrimped and saved to take this trip, the guy played by 'Phil Harris' of all people!; the newly wed couple, the guy is a sap and the girl is a whiny bitch; a wealthy businessman, an idiot flight navigator, an airline pilot who flies into hysterics at the first sign of trouble, and on and on. The only thing missing is Hattie McDaniel doing 'Mammy'. The only sane person on the flight??.. John Wayne, thank God! (He didn't want to do this movie). The dialogue and characters are laughable. Robert Stack as the pilot turns into an hysterical girl right before your eyes. The Dimitri Tiomkin music is so over the top, it makes this ham-bone of a movie even 'hammier'. Fortunately, Wellman, Stack and The Duke have a lot of great movies under their belts. 'This' ain't one of 'em!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I am quite a fan of Wellman as a director, John Wayne as an actor, Claire Trevor as an actress and Dimitri Tiomkin as a composer. Having said all this, I cannot say that I thought this film any good at all. John Wayne looked as if he'd have rather been somewhere else, and Robert Stack's wooden acting was even more wooden than usual. I just thought the whole thing was just as cheesy as it could be. When Sid Blackmer shot his gun and the engine caught fire, why was he not roped and gagged? When the plane finally did land, why was he not turned in and then arrested? I just thought the plot was silly and the whole thing poorly acted. I'm sure many out there will think I'm writing sacrilege, but I've gotta call 'em as I see 'em!
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