A C-47 transport plane, named the Corsair, makes a forced landing in the frozen wastes of Quebec, and the plane's pilot, Captain Dooley, must keep his men alive in deadly conditions while waiting for rescue.


William A. Wellman


Ernest K. Gann (screenplay), Ernest K. Gann (novel)





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Capt. Dooley
Lloyd Nolan ... Captain Stutz
Walter Abel ... Col. Fuller
James Arness ... Mac McMullen
Andy Devine ... Willie Moon
Allyn Joslyn ... J.H. Handy
Jimmy Lydon ... Murray (as James Lydon)
Harry Carey Jr. ... Ralph Hunt
Hal Baylor ... Stankowski
Sean McClory ... Frank Lovatt
Wally Cassell ... D'Annunzia
Gordon Jones ... Walrus
Frank Fenton ... Capt. Turner
Robert Keys Robert Keys ... Maj. Ditson
Sumner Getchell ... Lt. Cord


A C-47 transport plane, named the Corsair, makes a forced landing in the frozen wastes of Quebec, and the plane's pilot, Captain Dooley, must keep his men alive in deadly conditions while waiting for rescue.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He Fought Every Futy of Man and Mountain To Get Where His Woman Was! See more »


Adventure | Drama


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The transport plane that was lost was a C47/DC3. See more »


When Lovatt died, he had curled up into a fetal position. He would have frozen in that position. When the crew buried him, he was straightened out. See more »


Capt. Dooley: I'll shoot the first one of ya to leave camp. I'll aim for your legs. I may miss and hit ya in the back of the head. Either way serves ya right.
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Referenced in The Our Gang Story (1994) See more »


Island in The Sky
Written by Emil Newman, Hugo Friedhofer and Johnny Lehmann
See more »

User Reviews

Dooley's Down!
9 August 2005 | by bsmith5552See all my reviews

"Island In the Sky" has long been unavailable for viewing. The recent DVD release remedies that. It has been beautifully restored to its original black and white brilliance and contains some of the best aerial photography (no special effects here) by veteran cinematographer William Clothier.

Capt. Dooley (John Wayne) and his crew, co-pilot Lovatt (Sean McClory), radio man D'Annunzia (Wally Cassell). navigator Murray (James Lydon) and engineer Stankowski (Hal Baylor) are civilian filters, flying a military aircraft used for supplying troops in WWII. Suddenly their compass malfunctions and they drift off course, flying into uncharted grounds deep into The Great White North. The plane goes down in the wilderness and the crew is forced to find ways to survive in the bone chilling cold.

Meanwhile back at the base the cry of "Dooley's Down" rings out. Fellow pilots rally to help their downed colleagues. Col. Fuller (Walter Abel) along with his sergeant (Regis Toomey) coordinate the search efforts. Among the pilots in on the search are Stuz (Lloyd Nolan), McMullen (James Arness), Moon (Andy Devine), Handy (Allyn Joslyn) and Fitch (Louis Jean Heydt).

Dooley and his crew fashion a shelter and fight to survive. One day the rescue planes fly over but do not see the downed filters. Finally after several searches..............

As in most John Wayne films, the John Wayne Stock Company is evident. Appearing in various roles are Harry Carey Jr,, Bob Steele, Darryl Hickman, Gordon Jones, Carl "Alflafa" Switzer, Paul Fix, Fess Parker, Mike "Touch" Connors and in a hilarious bit, Wellman regular George Chandler.

William Wellman, who provides the voice over narration, was a master at directing air movies having begun with the classic "Wings" (1927). The aerial shots of the fleet of DC-3 planes is breath taking. Credability is stretched a little when we see the downed airmen clad only in their regular clothing and wrapped in single blankets supposedly surviving in temperatures of up to -70F. Also the story takes place in Northern Labrador however, the doomed plane was flying a north-west course of some 600 miles away from the St. Lawrence River which would take them away from Labrador and into Northern Quebec.

The DVD Special Edition contains an excellent feature commentary with Leonard Maltin, William Wellman Jr., Darryl Hickman and James Lydon. Maltin also hosts the other segments including a memorable "John Wayne Stock Company" interview with veteran actor Harry Carey Jr.

Well worth the long wait.

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Release Date:

5 September 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William A. Wellman's Island in the Sky See more »

Filming Locations:

White Mountains, Arizona, USA See more »


Box Office


$967,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (WarnerPhonic/RCA Sound System)| 4-Track Stereo (WarnerPhonic/RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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