6.9/10
242
11 user 1 critic

Decision Against Time (1957)

The Man in the Sky (original title)
The efforts of test pilot John Mitchell to make a better life for his wife Mary and their two children seem doomed to failure and he blames himself. At the Conway Aero-Manufacturing Company... See full summary »

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Writers:

(an original story by), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Mary Mitchell
Jeremy Bodkin ...
Nicholas Mitchell
Gerard Lohan ...
Philip Mitchell
Walter Fitzgerald ...
Conway
...
Peter Hook
...
Ashmore
...
Joe Biggs
...
Keith
...
Crabtree
...
Mary's Mother
...
Mrs. Snowden
...
Maine
Raymond Francis ...
Jenkins
Russell Waters ...
Sim
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Storyline

The efforts of test pilot John Mitchell to make a better life for his wife Mary and their two children seem doomed to failure and he blames himself. At the Conway Aero-Manufacturing Company of Wolverhampton, Mitchell is to take the company's new rocket-propulsion transport plane up for tests, fully loaded and carrying two important passengers - Ministry official Crabtree and buyer's representative Ashmore. Mitchell learns from his boss, Reg Conway, that if Ashmore does not recommend the plane, the company will be out of business and Mitchell out of a job, since the plane is not even insured as the firm's entire capital is tied up in the plane. Aloft, an engine catches fire and the passengers and other crew bail out, but Mitchell refuses to obey orders to jettison the plane in the Irish Sea. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A PILOT'S DECISION! (original print ad for U.S. release "Decision Against Time" - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 July 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Decision Against Time  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$486,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Opening credits: The events and characters portrayed in this film are fictitious. See more »

Goofs

The cockpit scenes show the port engine propeller slowly turning. The outside scenes show the propeller in a stationary position. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 1950's: Music, Memories & Milestones (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A few additional comments
16 July 2007 | by See all my reviews

Thanks to Planktonrules for the thoughtful analysis/appreciation. However, there are just a few comments I'd like to add to his review.

"The Man in the Sky" (a.k.a. "Decision Against Time") is a fairly representative example of the kinds of dramas that Ealing produced in addition to their better-known comedies. In fact, out of the 96 feature-length films that Ealing released between 1938 and 1959, only about 15 to 20 were comedies, depending on what you count. The other 80% was made up of virtually every kind of movie that was being made in Britain at the time: war pictures, crime thrillers, period pieces, and even a couple of literary adaptations, musicals, and horror films. So it's not really correct to claim that "most" of Ealing's output was comedy -- though the comedies have come to overshadow everything else that Ealing did.

Since this movie is representative of Ealing's dramatic style, it's a good place to start if you only know the comedies. Like "The Cruel Sea" (an Ealing war film with Jack Hawkins), this one is primarily about the human stories that lie at the heart of tragedies or potential tragedies. We first see Hawkins' character as a family man facing typical problems, like being unable to purchase a new home, before we see him in the crisis situation that dominates the film. So like many of Ealing's dramas, this one is primarily about how an ordinary man meets an extraordinary situation. In many ways, Hawkins' character is not unlike one of Hemingway's "code" heroes. In order to succeed, he must maintain self-control and absolute professionalism. It's easy to dismiss films like this as uncritical celebrations of the stereotypically British "stiff upper lip." But in fact, the film is really about how its characters handle emotions that cannot be talked about because those emotions are conflicting and difficult to understand anyway. When the resolution comes, it is played out in silence -- a daring choice on the part of director Charles Crichton, but one that results in greater profundity than you might expect.

Finally, it's worth noting that this was the first movie that Ealing produced/released after it sold and left its home studio. In 1956, producer Michael Balcon was forced to negotiate a new distribution deal. (The British film industry was going through one of its frequent crises.) As a result, Balcon moved his production unit to MGM's British base, where Balcon had worked briefly in the mid-1930s before moving on to Ealing. After this film, Ealing would make only six more before closing down for good in 1959, thus ending one of the most brilliant chapters in British film history. Movies like "Man in the Sky," which examines reticence and self-control, just weren't what younger British audiences wanted to see, and the age of James Bond, the Beatles, and the "angry young men" was just around the corner.


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