6.5/10
474
32 user 5 critic

Toward the Unknown (1956)

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.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writer:

Beirne Lay Jr.
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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 Maura Murphy ... Sarah McKee
Carol Kelly Carol Kelly ... Debbie
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Storyline

USAF Major Lincoln Bond is captured, tortured and released from a POW camp in Korea. After the war he returns to the US where he is re-assigned as a test pilot at the Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. The Air Force is testing the new experimental aircraft Gilbert XF-120 fighter. The acceptance of the new aircraft by the Air Force is dependent on successful tests designed to prove the aircraft's reliability and safety. However, when Major Bond flies the prototype he encounters a problem that points out a dangerous structural flaw. This could threaten the aircraft's acceptance by the Air Force and derail the whole project. Major Bond's commanding officer and some of his colleagues start to suspect that Major Bond is imagining things because of his mental condition dating back to his imprisonment and torture in the Korean POW camp. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

WILLIAM HOLDEN AS A ROCKET PILOT, U.S.A. (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Einst kommt die Stunde See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toluca Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The uncredited little boy playing James Garner's son is five-year-old actor Jon Provost who a year later would start playing "Timmy" in the TV series Lassie (1954). See more »

Goofs

In long-distance shots, the parachute streaming out of the rear of General Banner's (Lloyd Nolan) F-94 is shown barely open in the rush of the air stream. Yet, in the closeups of the parachute, it is just fluttering as if in a relatively mind breeze. See more »

Quotes

Brig. Gen. Bill Banner: [to Maj. Lincoln Bond] Even with torture, you're not the kind to crack.
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Soundtracks

The U.S. Air Force
by Robert Crawford
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User Reviews

It's mainly Great, a hash of both good and bad...
14 September 1999 | by shaman-9See all my reviews

I think this is one of the best films on the gritty business of flight testing--back in the days before a bad airplane could be tested inside a computer program.

In several respects, it is a film of its time, with a young L.Q. Jones as a bumbling staff officer, a "love interest" and a sub-plot showing the protagonist, played by Bill Holden, as an agonized alumni of a Korean POW camp. In one of several galling items, he has made an attempt on his own life before the action began, but he is accepted as a test pilot anyway--which is absolutely bogus. Aircraft manufacturers are portrayed badly--which, in the main, the relevant history doesn't support. Disregard of orders is treated with unrealistic indulgence by a commander.

Read Scott Crossfield's autobiography for some corrects on this.

On the other hand, some of the action is simply great. A mythical bomber develops a metal fatigue problem in the air, which another pilot cannot duplicate. Several weeks later, the plane's wing once again fails and this time it costs a third pilot his life. (My personal take on this--there's a big difference between "fixing" the blame and fixing the problem.)

At this point and at several others, the film is a worthy complement to the Edwards AFB scenes of "The Right Stuff". The photography is simply stunning.


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