IMDb > The High and the Mighty (1954)
The High and the Mighty
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The High and the Mighty (1954) More at IMDbPro »

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The High and the Mighty -- John Wayne plays Dan Roman, a veteran pilot haunted by a tragic past. Now relegated to second-incommand cockpit assignments, he finds himself scheduled on a routine Honolulu-to-San Francisco flight - one that takes a terrifying, suspense-building turn when disaster strikes high above the Pacific Ocean at the point of no return.
The High and the Mighty -- 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.

Overview

User Rating:
7.0/10   4,074 votes »
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Down 5% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Ernest K. Gann (screenplay)
Ernest K. Gann (novel)
Contact:
View company contact information for The High and the Mighty on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 July 1954 (USA) See more »
Tagline:
The 2-year best seller blasts to the screen with every kind of love there is! See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Won Oscar. Another 1 win & 6 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
"When your motor conked out, my motor conked out." See more (162 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

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

Ann Doran ... Clara Joseph

John Qualen ... Jose Locota

Paul Fix ... Frank Briscoe
George Chandler ... Ben Sneed
Joy Kim ... Dorothy Chen
Michael Wellman ... Toby Field

Douglas Fowley ... Alsop

Regis Toomey ... Tim Garfield

Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer ... Ensign Keim (as Carl Switzer)
Robert Keys ... Lieutenant Mowbray

William Hopper ... Roy (as William Dewolf Hopper)

William Schallert ... Dispatcher
Julie Mitchum ... Susie Wilby
Doe Avedon ... Miss Spalding

Karen Sharpe ... Nell Buck
John Smith ... Milo Buck
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Scotty Beckett ... Coast Guard Navigator (uncredited)
John Close ... Mechanic (uncredited)
James Conaty ... Mrs. Joseph's Doctor (uncredited)

Robert Easton ... Cargo Clerk (uncredited)
Dorothy Ford ... Mrs. Wilson (uncredited)
Al Hill ... San Francisco Ground Crewman (uncredited)
William Hudson ... Reporter (uncredited)
John Indrisano ... Radar Operator (uncredited)
Douglas Kennedy ... Boyd, Public Relations (uncredited)
David Leonard ... Scientist (uncredited)
Al Murphy ... Lighthouse Dispatcher (uncredited)
William H. O'Brien ... Restaurant Cook (uncredited)
Walter Reed ... Mr. Field (uncredited)
Philip Van Zandt ... Mr. Wilson (uncredited)

Directed by
William A. Wellman 
 
Writing credits
Ernest K. Gann (screenplay)

Ernest K. Gann (novel "The High and the Mighty")

Produced by
Robert Fellows .... producer (uncredited)
John Wayne .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Dimitri Tiomkin 
 
Cinematography by
Archie Stout (photographed by)
 
Film Editing by
Ralph Dawson 
 
Art Direction by
Alfred Ybarra  (as Al Ybarra)
 
Set Decoration by
Ralph S. Hurst (set decorations) (as Ralph Hurst)
 
Makeup Department
Loren Cosand .... makeup artist
Margaret Donovan .... hair stylist
Web Overlander .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Nate H. Edwards .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Andrew V. McLaglen .... assistant director (as Andrew McLaglen)
 
Art Department
Joe LaBella .... property man (as Joseph La Bella)
Patrick Wayne .... props assistant (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
John K. Kean .... sound recording
 
Special Effects by
Robert A. Mattey .... special effects (as Robert Mattey)
 
Stunts
Tom Hennesy .... stunts (uncredited)
Bill Keating .... DC-4 stunt pilot (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
William H. Clothier .... aerial photography (as William Clothier)
Vic Jones .... gaffer
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Gwen Wakeling .... wardrobe designer
Joan Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Bryan McMahan .... colorist: re-mastering
 
Music Department
Dimitri Tiomkin .... conductor
Manuel Emanuel .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Paul Marquardt .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Charles Maxwell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
George Parrish .... orchestrator (uncredited)
John Qualen .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
David Tamkin .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Herbert Taylor .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Dimitri Tiomkin .... music arranger: "Aloha Oe", "Kaua I Ka Hua Hua'i" and "The Barber of Seville" (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Wm. H. Benge .... technical advisor
Robert C. Cannom .... technical advisor: U.S.C.G. (as Lt. Commander Robert M. Cannom)
Sam Freedle .... script supervisor
Loren Riebe .... camera plane pilot
Muzzy Marcellino .... whistler: dubbing for John Wayne (uncredited)
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • Post Logic Studios  digital restoration (uncredited)
  • Transocean Air Lines  our sincere appreciation for the technical advice and cooperation given us by (as Transocean Air Lines, Oakland, California)
  • United States Coast Guard  we wish to thank: for their cooperation and advice (as the United States Coast Guard)

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"William A. Wellman's The High and the Mighty" - UK (complete title), USA (complete title)
See more »
Runtime:
147 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (WarnerColor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.55 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
4-Track Stereo | Mono (RCA Sound System)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Australia:M (TV rating) | Finland:K-8 | Netherlands:AL (orginal rating) | Sweden:15 | UK:U | UK:U (video rating) (2007) | USA:Not Rated (DVD Rating) | USA:Approved (PCA #16801) | West Germany:12 (f)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers, and Dorothy McGuire all turned down roles in this film.See more »
Goofs:
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): At the missile testing site, the word "missile" is misspelled "missle" on the sign.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 »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
With Catlike Tread Upon Our Prey We StealSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
57 out of 68 people found the following review useful.
"When your motor conked out, my motor conked out.", 16 May 2005
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

The release of The High and the Mighty coincidentally came out at the same time I Love Lucy shifted it's locale from New York to Hollywood and star crazy Lucy Ricardo was stalking all the big film stars of the day. I still remember when Lucy stole John Wayne's footprints outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre and that never to be forgotten line she said to him about his latest film quoted above.

I think a lot of people felt that way about The High and the Mighty. I was lucky to see it when it was broadcast in 1979 the week of the Duke's demise. I had seen it earlier, but it has not been broadcast since. And that's a pity because this film is a four star winner in every respect.

This was produced by John Wayne as well as starring him and it is the second work he did with director William Wellman. In fact Ernest K. Gann wrote the novel this was based on and he also wrote the book that the Wayne-Wellman combination tackled in their first endeavor, Island in the Sky. That too, has not been broadcast for years, but I've seen it also.

In fact if you look at the credits, all the Wellman behind the camera crew is virtually the same. One big addition for The High and the Mighty is Dimitri Tiomkin, writer of so many wonderful film scores for the Duke and others. Previous to this Tiomkin had done that outstanding score for Red River for Wayne another milestone picture for him. The only Oscar the film won was for it's score.

It's one of the great movie themes of all time and not too many people know this, but there were lyrics by Ned Washington. The theme was also in the Best Song award category, but lost to Secret Love. Probably because I can't recall a vocal recording done of it. Lots of instrumentals though, a big seller.

In this Grand Hotel cast, actresses Claire Trevor and Jan Sterling both got nominated in The Best Supporting Actress category, but lost to Eva Marie Saint. It's almost a shame that those two performances got singled out because the whole cast was brilliant. It's always the mark of a good film that even the most minute character roles are fully developed and remembered. Case in point: In The High and the Mighty Douglas Fowley as a ground attendant at the beginning of the movie and Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez as a ship's radio operator have tiny parts, but you will remember both.

The plot concerns a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco which develops engine problems and a fuel loss. After that the suspense doesn't let up for one micro-second of film. Lots of flashbacks are well integrated into the plot. Flashbacks about the crew and the passengers. All of their lives are laid bare in brief vignettes. Two passenger performances I liked besides Trevor and Sterling were Paul Kelly as the cynical scientist and Robert Newton as the jaded Broadway producer.

The crew of course is headed by Robert Stack as pilot and John Wayne as co-pilot. In his memoirs Stack said the role of Sullivan was one of his favorites and he paid a heartfelt tribute to producer/co-star John Wayne. Wayne was a controversial guy, most of his co-stars liked to work with him, a few didn't. Stack was one of his biggest boosters as a performer and his tribute to the Duke should be read by all John Wayne fans.

Thank the Deity that a new generation of cinema fans will finally get to see John Wayne at his very best as Dan Roman. The unavailability of Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty have not been good for fans and critics discussing John Wayne's work. His work with both John Ford and Howard Hawks has been rehashed time and again, but no one ever talks about his three films with William Wellman which in my book renders all discussions about him as an actor up to now quite pointless. Why he was overlooked in the Oscar sweepstakes that year is a mystery.

Wayne had one of the best faces for closeups ever in screen history. Top directors like Ford, Hawks, and Wellman knew that and used him to best advantage. Both in Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty, Bill Wellman caught a lot of the anguish and determination in closeups that said more than a page of dialog. Both as Dooley in Island in the Sky and as Dan Roman here, Wayne plays a character who is not battling bad guys, but a bad situation. In both he's the leader of a group of people who's lives are in his hands and he can't show weakness. None of the usual screen fights are in either of his Wellman roles. It's the elements and fear that are the bad guys that have to be licked.

It's a pity they didn't do more actor/director classics like these two films, Wellman and Wayne. They did work together on Blood Alley, but it doesn't hold a candle to the first two films. Bill Wellman actually did work for the Duke once again in a film Wayne produced, but did not star in called Goodbye My Lady in 1956. Wellman retired two years later.

The High and the Mighty represents an artistic triumph and a commercial one. When it came out, John Wayne was at the height of his career, in the midst of a string of years as number one at the box office. Catch this film by all means if you can. With it coming out on DVD, maybe it will finally be broadcast again on AMC or TCM.

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