IMDb > Toward the Unknown (1956)
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Toward the Unknown (1956) More at IMDbPro »

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Beirne Lay Jr. (written by)
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Release Date:
October 1956 (USA) See more »
ROCKET SHIP PILOTS, U.S.A.! (original print ad - all caps) See more »
At the dawn of supersonic flight in the 1950s a group of Edwards Air Force Base experimental aircraft test pilots push themselves to the limit. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Great in 1956 and great today See more (30 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

William Holden ... Maj. Lincoln Bond

Lloyd Nolan ... Brig. Gen. Bill Banner
Virginia Leith ... Connie Mitchell

Charles McGraw ... Col. 'Mickey' McKee

Murray Hamilton ... Maj. Bromo Lee

Paul Fix ... Lt. Gen. Bryan Shelby

James Garner ... Lt. Col. Joe Craven

L.Q. Jones ... 2nd Lt. Sweeney

Karen Steele ... Polly Craven
Bartlett Robinson ... Senator Black

Malcolm Atterbury ... Hank - Bell Technical Rep.
Ralph Moody ... Harvey Gilbert
Maura Murphy ... Sarah McKee
Carol Kelly ... Debbie
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Richard H. Cutting ... Doc Bailey - Flight Surgeon (uncredited)
John Daheim ... Stranger in Nightclub Fight (uncredited)
Cathy Ferrara ... Lucy Craven (uncredited)
Don C. Harvey ... Jerry the Bartender (uncredited)
William Henry ... AP Captain (uncredited)
Robert Hover ... Pilot (uncredited)
Les Johnson ... Pilot (uncredited)

Nelson Leigh ... Chaplain (uncredited)

Jon Provost ... Joe Craven Jr. (uncredited)
Autumn Russell ... Harriet (uncredited)
Jeffrey Sayre ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Mickey Simpson ... Gate Guard - Edwards A.F.B. (uncredited)
Bob Stratton ... Jimmy (uncredited)

James Westmoreland ... Pilot (uncredited)
Will J. White ... AP Sergeant (uncredited)
Jean Willes ... Carmen (uncredited)
James S. Wilson ... Chase Pilot (uncredited)

Directed by
Mervyn LeRoy 
Writing credits
Beirne Lay Jr. (written by)

Produced by
Beirne Lay Jr. .... associate producer
Mervyn LeRoy .... producer
Original Music by
Paul Baron 
Cinematography by
Harold Rosson (director of photography) (as Hal Rosson)
Film Editing by
William H. Ziegler  (as William Ziegler)
Art Direction by
John Beckman 
Set Decoration by
Ralph S. Hurst  (as Ralph Hurst)
Costume Design by
Moss Mabry 
Makeup Department
Gordon Bau .... makeup supervisor
Production Management
Mel Dellar .... unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Al Alleborn .... assistant director: second unit
Russell Llewellyn .... assistant director
Russell Saunders .... second unit director (as Russ Saunders)
Sound Department
Stanley Jones .... sound
Special Effects by
Hans F. Koenekamp .... special effects (as H.F. Koenekamp)
Leo K. Kuter .... special effects art director (as Leo E. Kuter)
Camera and Electrical Department
Harold E. Wellman .... photography: second unit
Paul Mantz .... aerial director of photography (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Thomas Reilly .... film editor: second unit
Other crew
Frank Everest .... technical advisor (as Lt. Col. Frank Everest Jr. ARDC)
Price Henry .... technical advisor (as Maj. Price Henry ARDC)
Ralph Martin .... technical advisor (as Lt. Col. Ralph Martin ARDC)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
115 min
Color (WarnerColor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Finland:K-12 | Sweden:15 | USA:Approved (certificate #17997)

Did You Know?

The farewell fly-by honoring Lloyd Nolan's character was led by "Pete" Everest (Frank Everest), accompanied by Iven Kincheloe, Lou Schalk, Stu Childs and Robert M. White. All were famous Edwards AFB test pilots.See more »
Factual errors: Early in the film when Bond observes General Banner crash his aircraft, it's referred to as an "F-102". In reality the hulk that Banner is pulled from is a Convair XF-92, the experimental predecessor to the F-102 Delta Dagger.See more »
Brig. Gen. Bill Banner:[to Maj. Lincoln Bond] Even with torture, you're not the kind to crack.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Story of Esther Costello (1957)See more »
The U.S. Air ForceSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
20 out of 21 people found the following review useful.
Great in 1956 and great today, 4 November 2003
Author: eaglejet98

This is an excellent film. Most people know Mervyn Leroy as a great director, but they may not recognize Beirne Lay, Jr. Lay was a B-17 pilot in the 100th Bomb Group, 8th AAF in WW II, and the co-author of the book "12 O'Clock High", from which the academy award movie of the same name was made.

Many aspects of this film are great: its desert scenery, aerial photography and accuracy of detail in regard to flight test during the 1950s are all top notch. The cast ,as played by such great character actors as Lloyd Nolan and an up and coming James Garner (a Korean War infantryman), are sincere and believable.

What impressed me most then and more so now, is the way the film approached the issue of a Korean War POW who had "cracked". Remember, this picture came out more than 10 years before Americans saw the results of North Vietnamese treatment of our downed air crews. In the 1950s POWs were expected to give only name, rank and serial number if captured. Those that failed to stand fast, to what is now recognized as an unattainable standard, were shunned. Brainwashing and emotional torture weren't understood until years later.

But this film used a very strong leading man (Holden) to focus on the sensitive issue of a "broken" pilot who tried to make his way back into American society and regain his dignity in the hardest court of opinion, the ranks of the active Air Force. Everything gels in this movie. It makes a good point many years ahead of its time. Under the same circumstances who knows how he'd survive being a POW? And ultimately we all can fail and redeem ourselves.

I agree, they need to put this one out on DVD or VHS, so we can see it more than just on an occasional late night TV movie.

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WB Archives DVD MAJOR Disappointment gemaisack
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I was a kid at Edwards hankpac
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