Top positive review
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Lets fly away !
on 27 March 2008
A big mistake is to watch this film from a modern day standpoint. If it is not possible
to temporarily transport oneself back 50 years the movie will be an exceedingly tedious, boring and
without doubt a funny one, and almost certainly you will not last the flight!
For politico-business reason the High and the Mighty has been sitting on an archive shelf since the 1950s - it first appeared on cinema
screens in 1954 and in cinemascope too which at the time was an innovative format. It has recently been restored - all 141 minutes of it - and a damned fine job has been done too. Excellent colour saturation, sharp focus and a 5: 1 soundtrack miraculously engineered into the movie. It looks and sounds so good it might have been shot last week. What could not be changed is the screenplay, the special effects and the acting!
A lot of familiar faces are in the cast list including a youthful John Wayne and a fresh faced Robert Stack, also a young Jan Sterling will be met.
Commercial flying in the 1950s was far removed from the stressful experience it can be today. Then there were no long queues at check-in desks; in fact one was greeted by name as one approached with smart leather luggage and a shoulder-padded suit - men as well as women! There were no close encounters with anyone suffering from travel rage and everything was most courteous and friendly. This was after all, an experience for the comfortably off and the well behaved. Furthermore, airports then, unlike today, were not shopping malls with a runway attached .
The film is full of clichés - even then - and has Airplane, which was to appear some thirty years in the future, written all over it.
Basically, the story is of an airliner short on fuel - really! It's on a flight over the Pacific and carrying the usual mix of passengers with personal problems. The frightened woman, the man carrying a gun, an angelic small boy and the about to be divorced couple. And of course the regulation must-have pilot with a problem. They are all there, the sort of folk one expects to encounter in an aeroplane, but curiously, never on a bus, tram or train or ship!
The aeroplane itself of course is strictly of the time. The cabin interior, with open racks above the exceedingly well-sized seats, looking more like a long distance coach. The flight deck is depicted as a walk -in room and inhabited by a surprising number of individuals it apparently took to fly the thing. I counted four or five square jawed, broad shouldered guys in para-military uniforms, one of whom had a strange habit of whistling the movie's theme tune from time to time as a bit of a morale booster.
It's all great fun - especially if one is a fan of this kind of hokum. Having said that, it's not a bad couple of hours and more entertainment. The film was after all nominated for half a dozen Oscars and actually won one - for the theme music. The movie also kicked into play the careers of some of the players - especially Robert Stack who would appear in a similar role many years later in Airplane.
For a Tenner of less you'll get a two-disc DVD , one containing the movie and the other, which has loads of extras, that may be found by some to be more enjoyable than the film! I'm happy to recommend this movie and give it a generous four stars.