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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

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Taglines:

The 2-Year Best-Seller Sensation! The Year's Greatest Cast! 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

When the 'disaster film' genre came of age in the 1970s, one of the most suspenseful elements was determining who would survive and who would die in the course of the adventure. However, at the time The High and the Mighty (1954) was made, it was all but unheard of that non-villainous characters in peril - particularly women and children - should perish. With death off the table, the screenplay resorted to extended flashbacks into the passengers' private lives, and it is for this that the film has sustained its greatest criticism over the course of time. Some of the flashbacks are comic, others poignant, but all of them are wholly irrelevant to the essential plight of an airplane bound for a crash landing and, even more detrimental, they break the suspense by allowing the audience to leave the entrapped environment. For modern-day viewers, particularly those steeped in 1970s disaster films, the flashback sequences lend a jarring, incongruent note to the otherwise genre-faithful proceedings. See more »

Goofs

When co-pilot Dan Roman was walking down the aisle to explain to the passengers what was wrong with the engines, you could see the whole right wall of the plane was missing as the camera tracked him. 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 »

Alternate Versions

A very few prints were made for release in the Los Angeles area during December, 1954 which included a vocal version of the Main Theme from "The High and the Mighty" in the closing credits. This was done to qualify the film for eligibility in the AMPAS Best Song category for the year. However, the Best Song award went to "Three Coins in the Fountain". See more »


Soundtracks

Barber of Seville
(excerpts) (uncredited)
Music by Gioachino Rossini
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Worth the Wait
4 October 2005 | by Mike-764See all my reviews

Trans Ocean Pacific's flight from Honolulu to San Francisco seems to proceed with no problems until one of the four engines catches fire midway on the flight which causes one of the gas tanks to leak. The crew tries to prepare to land the plane in the bay to be rescued, while experienced co-pilot Dan Roman conserve the remaining fuel to get the plane to land in the San Francisco Airport. The widely heterogeneous group of passengers which include a disgruntled man who believes his wife had an affair with one of the other passengers, a female who is hoping her man will love her despite her age, a couple on the brink of divorce, and others have to make the best of their situation and hope its not the last moments they will spend alive. Very good film that took forever to get to DVD, but seems to be worth it. Excellent performances by all and Tiomkin's score is excellent and so memorable you'll be whistling or humming it for days. The film (like many air disaster epics) seems to run a bit too long, but there is a lot of emotion to be played out here. Rating 8.


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