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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.


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Ernest K. Gann (screenplay)
Ernest K. Gann (novel)
View company contact information for The High and the Mighty on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 July 1954 (USA) See more »
The 2-year best seller blasts to the screen with every kind of love there is! See more »
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:
Won Oscar. Another 1 win & 6 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Not the classic everyone "remembers" See more (162 total) »


  (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)
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 »
147 min
Color (WarnerColor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.55 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
4-Track Stereo | Mono (RCA Sound System)
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?

John Wayne's first film in CinemaScope.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Jan Sterling showed a newspaper article to Robert Stack, it was dated 1948. Jan commented that the article was "8 years old". The movie was released in 1954, only 6 years after the article was written.See more »
[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:
With Catlike Tread Upon Our Prey We StealSee more »


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76 out of 115 people found the following review useful.
Not the classic everyone "remembers", 13 July 2005
Author: JimB-4 from United States

I went to the DVD premiere screening of THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY tonight (12 June 2005) at Paramount studios. It was a big red-carpet event, and I saw a number of people associated with the film there, though there are a scant handful of the cast still surviving. Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, William Campbell, and Robert Easton were there, and from bits of applause during the screening, I suspect that a few others were there as well. Of course, all of the major character players are gone: Wayne, Stack, Trevor, Day, Sterling, Harris, Newton, Brian, Kelly, Blackmer, and Qualen. Other than Karen Sharpe and William Schallert, I'm not certain whether anyone yet unmentioned is still alive. Doe Avedon probably is (she was really lovely as the flight attendant).

As some have speculated, there's no way for this film to live up to the hype that has grown up because of its near-forty year unavailability. It's been beautifully restored. The picture quality seems to my uneducated eye to be impeccable, and the sound is really magnificent. And there are some moments of nice performance, particularly by Wayne, Robert Stack, Jan Sterling, and John Qualen. But as much as I would love to say this is a resurrected masterpiece, it simply isn't possible for me to do so honestly. After AIRPLANE!, I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect people to take a Fifties airliner disaster movie seriously. But the level of corn and hokum and treacle and syrup in which the film wallows (especially in the primary sections dealing with the passengers rather than the crew) is simply intolerable in today's world. I'm not referring to the fact that it's a different practical world now, one in which it would be ludicrous to show a passenger pulling a gun on another passenger on an airliner of today. I'm referring rather to the simple unbelievability of the human behavior exhibited. I'm willing to accept a passenger getting aboard a trans-Pacific airliner with a gun in his pocket in 1954. I'm not willing to accept him pulling that gun, threatening other passengers with it, having it taken from him, and later having it handed back to him just because he says, "I'm all right now, I've calmed down." Phil Harris, fifty at the time and looking sixty, plays a 38-year-old, and 43-year-old Ann Doran plays his 30-year-old wife. Laraine Day berates her husband and demands a divorce, and good ol' Phil says to the husband, "You think you got problems?" and proceeds to tell him about how rain and crummy hotels ruined his vacation, and the husband (John Howard) thus sees his own life in a new perspective. Every cliché imaginable comes into play, and rarely is there a moment that can be easily swallowed, even with Herculean efforts to place oneself mentally in the zeitgeist of the film.

Only in the cockpit are things comparatively realistic and believable, and even there big pills must be swallowed. One of the reasons John Wayne comes off so well in this film is he has relatively little to say. It's probably the lowest line-count of any of Wayne's leading roles, and thus unsaddled with the maudlinities and sappiness of the dialog the passengers are stuck with, he comes off better than anyone in the picture. Spencer Tracy was supposed to play Wayne's role but turned it down (according to various stories) either because he thought the script was lousy or he didn't want to work for taskmaster William Wellman. I'm betting on the former reason.

There are still things to like in THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (Dimitri Tiomkin's Oscar-winning score among them), but an awful lot of people have been waiting forty years to see this "masterwork" again, and an awful lot of them are going to be either seriously disappointed or forced to convince themselves that it's not as bad as it seems.

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*SPOILER* Question about the ending eugenie51
'So long, you ancient pelican!' shula1010430
Vibration encountered - CashHog
What is the aircraft in the High and the Mighty? clive-13
I'm watching the moving that 'Airplane' parodies benivere
*SPOILER* Ed + Clara Joseph sectorsevenggg
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