3 items from 2016
David Lean is well known for his romantic dramas (Brief Encounter) and literary adaptations (Great Expectations, Doctor Zhivago), which is why The Sound Barrier, his 1952 semi-biographical portrait of the British struggle to surpass the speed of sound, seems like something of an oddity.
The story focuses on the relationships between an ambitious Raf pilot Tony (Nigel Patrick), his military bride Susan (Ann Todd) her father, John (Ralph Richardson), a wealthy plane manufacturer who has lofty goals and doesn’t mind risking human lives to reach them. A brief prelude sees Susan’s brother Christopher – a small but welcome appearance from Indiana Jones’ Denholm Elliott – attempt to join the air force, despite both a lack of interest in and aptitude for flying. This ominous complication, paired with the »
- Mark Allen
The Sound Barrier, 1952.
Directed by David Lean.
Fictionalized story of British aerospace engineers solving the problem of supersonic flight.
The Sound Barrier, directed by David Lean midway through one of greatest runs in film history, is the story of the bid to achieve supersonic flight told through a fictionalised conflation of true events. In Lean’s account, it’s Brit aircraft magnate Sir John Ridgefield (Ralph Richardson), aided by his test pilot son-in-law Tony (Nigel Patrick), who through obsessive single-mindedness shatters the perceived limits of jet engine technology. In reality it was Usaf pilot Chuck Yeager, not any British airman, who first broke the sound barrier, but to Lean this detail is inconsequential. For his picture is not really about who shattered the record first at all. The Sound Barrier is rather a tale of Man’s »
- Amie Cranswick
A box office hit on release in 1952, David Lean’s The Sound Barrier, which dramatises Britain’s race to break the speed of sound, has since passed everyone by. Written by Terrence Rattigan and starring Ralph Richardson and Ann Todd, it tells the story of the obsessive aviators who took flight supersonic. The Sound Barrier is available on DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time from 11 April
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- Guardian Staff
3 items from 2016
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