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The High and the Mighty (1954)

Not Rated | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 3 July 1954 (USA)
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2:53 | Trailer
When a commercial airliner develops engine problems on a trans-Pacific flight and the pilot loses his nerve, it is up to the washed-up co-pilot Dan Roman to bring the plane in safely.

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writers:

Ernest K. Gann (screenplay), Ernest K. Gann (novel)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Dan Roman
Claire Trevor ... May Holst
Laraine Day ... Lydia Rice
Robert Stack ... John Sullivan
Jan Sterling ... Sally McKee
Phil Harris ... Ed Joseph
Robert Newton ... Gustave Pardee
David Brian ... Ken Childs
Paul Kelly ... Donald Flaherty
Sidney Blackmer ... Humphrey Agnew
Julie Bishop ... Lillian Pardee
Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez ... Gonzales (as Gonzalez Gonzalez)
John Howard ... Howard Rice
Wally Brown ... Lenny Wilby, navigator
William Campbell ... Hobie Wheeler
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Storyline

On a flight from Hawaii to California, the engine dies on the plane Dan is flying. As he prepares for a crash landing, the passengers reassess their lives. The template for disaster movies with an Oscar-winning score and a cast list that reads like a who's who of 1950s film. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The 2-Year Best-Seller Sensation! The Year's Greatest Cast! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 July 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William A. Wellman's The High and the Mighty See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,470,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo | Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As John Wayne performed double duty as both star (pinch-hitting for Spencer Tracy) and producer, it is generally assumed that much of his role was trimmed prior to filming, as the character of Dan Roman has noticeably little screen time in the final print and it is unlikely that Tracy would have accepted so small a part had it initially been written that way. See more »

Goofs

In the flashback story her husband tells, Clara Joseph falls down some stairs and kicks a waiter's tray in the process. However, when they cut from the closeup of her feet, she is obviously sitting on the bottom step. She then leans back, takes aim, and kicks the tray. She then lies back like it was all one continuous motion. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ben Sneed: Hey fella, ain't you Dan Roman?
Dan Roman: Yeah.
Ben Sneed: I heard you whistlin' and I said to myself only one guy does that just so.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The song "The High and the Mighty" (with lyrics) does not appear in the original 1954 release of this film. However, the studio wanted the hugely popular, chart-topping song to be nominated for the Best Song Academy Award that year. According to AMPAS regulations, the song could not be nominated because it was no officially sung in the film, even if would be heard elsewhere. To satisfy these regulations, a version was released towards the tail-end of 1954 for a few nights only with the song inserted into an Exit Music. The Academy then decided to give the song a nomination on the basis of these screenings. The song lost to "Three Coins in a Fountain". See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: John Wayne (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

Kaua I Ka Hua Hua'i
(uncredited)
Written by Prince Leleiohoku
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Drama , emotion and tension in a hazardous voyage on a trans-Pacific flight
15 October 2013 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

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 .


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