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Breaking the Sound Barrier (1952)

The Sound Barrier (original title)
Fictionalized story of British aerospace engineers solving the problem of supersonic flight.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John Ridgefield
...
Susan Garthwaite
Nigel Patrick ...
Tony Garthwaite
John Justin ...
Philip Peel
...
Jess Peel
Joseph Tomelty ...
Will Sparks
...
Christopher Ridgefield
Jack Allen ...
'Windy' Williams
Ralph Michael ...
Fletcher
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Storyline

Tony successful fighter pilot during World War II marries into the family of a wealthy oil magnate who also designs airplanes. The movie traces the company's attempt to break the sound barrier, as well as tensions between father and daughter. Lots of footage of early 50s jet aviation in Great Britain as well as shots of the Comet airliner, world's first jet passenger plane. Written by Henry Brugsch <henry@g0gku.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They lived and loved, like the jets they flew - fast and dangerous! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 December 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Breaking Through the Sound Barrier  »

Box Office

Budget:

£250,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The featured aircraft was a Supermarine Swift. See more »

Goofs

When Sue tells her husband she is pregnant, she tells him the baby is due around Christmas. But when the child is born, the weather is warm and sunny, suggesting the child is anything but a December baby. See more »

Quotes

Tony Garthwaite: What's so ruddy peculiar about the speed of sound? We all know exactly what it is, don't we? 750 miles per hour at ground level. Now if we go slower than that we can hear ourselves going, and if we go faster we can hear ourselves coming. It's a mere matter of acoustics.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, immediately after the human actors, are listed four British aircraft: The de Havilland Comet, the Vickers-Supermarine Attacker, the de Havilland Vampire, and the Vickers-Supermarine Swift. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Bit Part (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow
(uncredited)
Written by Joseph Tabrar
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent early "right stuff" movie
8 May 2010 | by (New York, United States) – See all my reviews

This is an impressively made movie from 1952 spanning the years between the end of WW2 and the Sputnik era.

In some ways, it is a science fiction movie. It has the right spirit for a classic, "real" sci fi novel or movie, as distinguished from almost all of those produced in the last 25+ years, which are primarily filled with irony, self- deprecating humor, pessimism, decadence, and gratuitous violence. Everyone born since, say, 1965, should see this to get the real spirit of science fiction.

As others have posted, it really is fiction. The fact that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947 was kept top-secret for several years. This movie was in the middle of production when the story broke. According to Robert Osborne on TCM, the director and producer considered including a reference to Yeager, but wisely, I think, decided to continue with the original plot and screen play. It is also fictional in the explanation for how to control the plane as it passes Mach 1, but that is a minor point.

However, it is also based on fact. The problems and fears about exceeding Mach 1 were very real. Some of the basic characters are clearly modeled on Geoffrey de Havilland, father and son. It would be almost, but not quite, a spoiler to read about them before seeing the movie.

The script and acting are excellent. It is very good that they emphasize the tension between the father and daughter. The resolution of that tension is very good indeed.

About the only criticism I can make is the choice of the actress to play Susan, the daughter and wife. She seems too old, and in real life, was only seven years younger than her "father."

I am very glad that I saw this optimistic, yet realistic, look at the motivation and risks of aeronautic and space exploration, coming from the golden age of British cinema.

  • henry



4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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