In Britain, at the dawn of jet-powered commercial aviation, an aircraft manufacturer tries to shift the blame from mechanical failure to pilot error when its newest jet airliner has a series of accidents.
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A seasoned pilot is condemned for an error which causes a crash. The pilot later dies in a crash with similar circumstances and an examiner looks for scientific reasons for the crashes. Written by
Scott Lane <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CONE OF SILENCE is one of those rare films - a technical thriller. The subject of this film is a type of aircraft that has problems taking off and landing when carrying a lot of weight and in warm temperatures. After an accident as a result of this problem, the cause is listed as human error, leading the pilot involved to attempt to clear his name.
The subject matter is quite unusual and I enjoyed the way this film refused to pigeonhole itself to a particular genre. Even the characters are written in shades of grey rather than being merely black and white creations. There are thriller elements, some courtroom drama, but most of all this is about the human element.
What makes CONE OF SILENCE work is the exemplary cast who have been gathered together to bring the material to life. In lesser acting hands this might have felt slightly turgid, but the cast make it work. The underrated Bernard Lee is particularly good as the pilot whose failings make up the backbone of the plot, and Peter Cushing is fine as his foil, a misguided antagonist for the most part. There are also roles for George Sanders, Gordon Jackson, and Michael Craig. Hammer fans will spot the likes of Andre Morell (THE MUMMY'S SHROUD), Charles Lloyd Pack (DRACULA), Marne Maitland (THE REPTILE), Noel Willman (KISS OF THE VAMPIRE), Gerald Sim (DR JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE), and Charles Tingwell (DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS) fleshing out the cast. CONE OF SILENCE is one of the more originally-plotted dramas I've seen from this era, and it doesn't disappointment.
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