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The High and the Mighty (1954)

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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.

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writers:

Ernest K. Gann (screenplay), Ernest K. Gann (novel)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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
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Storyline

One disaster after another happens on this trans-Pacific flight. You have the pilot who loses his nerve! The washed-up co-pilot. The milquetoast flight engineer. The young hot shot second officer. And a cabin full of passengers with every range of problems and personalities there could possibly be. Here you have the Duke in a role he didn't want, and a movie with the title song that became Duke's theme. What else could any John Wayne fan want? It's all here, and then some. Written by williamsportump@chilitech.net

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The 2-year best seller blasts to the screen with every kind of love there is! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 July 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William A. Wellman's The High and the Mighty See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,470,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo | Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the reasons that all-star casts became in vogue for 1970s disaster films was because audiences needed to differentiate between up to twenty disparate characters in order to follow the relationships in the plot, and familiar faces cut the audience's work in half. (Director Sidney Lumet used the same philosophy in casting Murder on the Orient Express [1974]). Because The High and the Mighty (1954) could not attract top talent, one of its primary criticisms in the intervening years has been the pronounced challenge in keeping the passengers straight because, though the film rallied some of the finest character actors in Hollywood, their faces were not recognizable enough to distinguish the characters. See more »

Goofs

When stewardess Spalding was preparing the liquor drinks, a problem with the plane caused a severe vibration. The table and the drinks shook, jumped and nearly fell, yet she did not shake, nor did the walls, or the curtain right behind her. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Sun Records: No Favors Here (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech
Traditional
Whistled by John Wayne
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User Reviews

 
Tiomkin's music gives it greatness. (As usual!)
12 June 2000 | by Hup234!See all my reviews

Soundtrack music is important. Try thinking of 'Star Wars' without John Williams' symphonic score, and you'll see what I'm saying. Dimitri Tiomkin knew exactly how to write for this picture, and how to move the audience, for without his classic and at times choral-accentuated theme and the rousing orchestral cues throughout, this would have been merely a good film rather than the near-great film that it is. Had it been made this year, for example, using a contemporary film composer, I believe TH&TM wouldn't carry it off.

There doesn't seem to be a replacement for Tiomkin on the horizon, and we couldn't afford to lose him.

The best lines belong to Jan Sterling (that cosmetics scene is still gripping), Robert Newton, and lovely Claire Trevor, and there's a great low-keyed, anticlimactic finale.

A Nine from me.


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