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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. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
When Lovatt died, he had curled up into a fetal position. He would have frozen in that position. When the crew buried him, he was straightened out. See more »
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 , BATTLEGROUND  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  and ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS , with which ISLAND IN THE SKY shares some of its plot line).
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