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Island in the Sky (1953)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama | 5 September 1953 (USA)
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A C-47 transport plane, named the Corsair, makes a forced landing in the frozen wastes of Labrador, and the plane's pilot, Captain Dooley, must keep his men alive in deadly conditions while waiting for rescue.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Captain Stutz
...
Col. Fuller
...
Mac McMullen
...
Willie Moon
...
J.H. Handy
...
Murray (as James Lydon)
...
Ralph Hunt
Hal Baylor ...
Stankowski
...
Frank Lovatt
Wally Cassell ...
D'Annunzia
...
Walrus
Frank Fenton ...
Capt. Turner
Robert Keys ...
Maj. Ditson
Sumner Getchell ...
Lt. Cord
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Storyline

A C-47 transport plane, named the Corsair, makes a forced landing in the frozen wastes of Labrador, and the plane's pilot, Captain Dooley, must keep his men alive in deadly conditions while waiting for rescue.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 September 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

William A. Wellman's Island in the Sky  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$967,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(WarnerPhonic/RCA Sound System)| (WarnerPhonic/RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The little yellow radio shown in the movie was a actual radio. Its design is based on a WWII German emergency transmitter. It is a BC-778/SCR-578/AN-CRT3 emergency transmitter (it could not receive) affectionately called 'Gibson Girl', a name taken from the narrow-waisted female drawings of 1890s fashion artist Charles Gibson. Its shape allowed the operator to hold it between the legs while cranking it the necessary 80 RPM to produce enough electricity to operate. It could be set to automatically send an SOS signal or switched to send Morse Code signals. Early models transmitted only on 500kHz, later models also could transmit on 8280kHz (later modified to 8364kHz). It was notorious for being tough to crank. See more »

Goofs

The stranded crew had arranged branches in the snow into the shape of a cross so the planes could spot it. Then they rearrange the branches to spell out a message when they fly over. The planes fly over one more time, and the branches are back in the shape of a cross. See more »

Quotes

Capt. Dooley: Tell them we're in a jam. Loosen up and lose some altitude. We're turning North West until we run out of gas.
Pilot: But if we go North West Captain, we'll fly right off the map. It says "unchartered" up that way.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Our Gang Story (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Blue Waters
(uncredited)
Written by Emil Newman and Irving Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
ISLAND IN THE SKY (William A. Wellman, 1953) ***
21 May 2006 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This proved to be an unjustly neglected gem, especially in view of the overrated THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954) – which I watched in conjunction with it – from the same team. As with John Wayne's other Batjac productions, the film hasn't been seen in decades but, hopefully, it will be rediscovered now via Paramount's SE DVD.

It features one of Wayne's more interesting roles, and his performance is accordingly impressive. Director Wellman and Wayne (in his capacity as executive producer) managed to make a low-key and unusually realistic film, which celebrates camaraderie, amid the studio system – with very little concession to typical Hollywood trappings (unlike its glamorized and inflated follow-up!). Ernest K. Gann, who spent his life in aviation and who followed this with THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, for the first time adapted his own novel to the screen and this gave the script a definite ring of authenticity: consequently, we find here any number of wonderful human (and often humorous) vignettes – but especially poignant are Sean McClory's death scene and the finale where the downed airmen are, at long last, spotted by their comrades who form the search party. Besides, the black-and-white cinematography (by Archie Stout and William H. Clothier, both of whom shot many a John Wayne picture) is remarkable and, done with little or no special effects, was – by all accounts – seminal in its field. The cast, too, is peppered with familiar faces (either established – and reliable – character actors or upcoming stars) but, more importantly, solid performers all around.

Wellman, a flying aficionado as well, made 11 films on the subject and numbers this one among his favorites (I tend to agree with him, given that I was slightly let down by some of his more renowned work like BEAU GESTE [1939], BATTLEGROUND [1949] and THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY itself!). The director's long career in films, tackling all kinds of subjects, was undoubtedly an interesting one: though he never quite achieved the reputation of, say, John Ford or Howard Hawks, he was of the same breed (and, indeed, this particular film has the feel of these two giants' work – both of whom, obviously, also proved crucial to John Wayne's career – and especially Hawks' CEILING ZERO [1935] and ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS [1939], with which ISLAND IN THE SKY shares some of its plot line).


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