The High and the Mighty (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
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That droll tidbit is characteristic of the inside reminiscences shared in "The Batjac Story," one of eight featurettes accompanying the DVD release of The High and the Mighty. From it we also learn that a Wayne unit shot "from sunup to sundown"; that the Duke was the egalitarian boss of a tight-knit company wherein relatives, co-workers, and the relatives of co-workers earned advancement by merit; and that the star was shrewd enough and powerful enough to retain full possession of copyright on Batjac films. A short on the career and personality of director "Wild Bill" Wellman includes the revelation that a lot of major stars declined roles in the ensemble movie (probably to their eventual regret), and that Spencer Tracy--originally cast as "Whistlin' Dan" Roman--"ankled" at the last moment ... necessitating Wayne's reluctantly taking on the part that became one of his best-remembered, indeed iconic, roles (the H&M theme music accompanied his final public appearance, at the spring 1979 Oscars). An especially entertaining profile of composer Dimitri Tiomkin notes that he collected the only Oscar among the film's many nominations--for music score, not (as is widely believed) best song. The theme song, a huge popular hit that helped make the movie such a pervasive Event of the '50s, wasn't even in the film as most people saw it; it had been cut in the effort to get the length down, but was cut back in for a week's run in Los Angeles to qualify for an Academy nomination. Nor was it the tune Whistlin' Dan actually whistled during filming; that was George M. Cohan's "Mary"!
Anchored by pop film historian Leonard Maltin, and backed almost nonstop by musical themes recycled from the H&M soundtrack, the featurettes occasionally resemble weekend sports highlight reels designed to keep armchair fans revved up till the main event. The overall tone is nostalgic/reverential, ceremonially befitting the re-emergence of a long-"lost" treasure. Only British film historian and heroic restoration specialist Kevin Brownlow quietly supplies some authoritative critical perspective: The High and the Mighty is not now and never was a great motion picture, but it was an understandably and deservedly beloved movie with "a mystique" unique in its power and endurance. That's well worth celebrating. --Richard T. Jameson
Top Customer Reviews
As a child growing up in L.A. in the 50's and 60's, I remember the then RKO TV station Channel 9 would show this movie relentlessly for years on end. Then it all stopped. The movie vanished. And now it is being held hostage for some legal reason.
It is a movie filled with surplatives though younger viewers might find the lack of hyberbolic special effects, sexual gymnastics, de riguer corporate disembowlment themes, blah blah....too unsurvivable for a start-to-finish viewing. It is a vintage 50's type movie...at its best.
This is John Wayne's best movie, in my opinion. He is excellent...taking him out of the cowboy theme he ultimately became cemented into. I will always remember John Wayne in my mind as he was in this movie...especially the very last scene which alone is worth the price of admission. Fittingly, the Orange County Airport is named after John Wayne, who had a career early on of appearing in films with aviation themes.
Ernest K. Gann, who penned the story, was an American Airlines pilot who churned out aviation novel, one after another. His equally famous novel that was made into an excellent movie, was "Fate is the Hunter". Both of these movies deal with an aircraft incident/accident. "The High and the Mighty" concentrates on the human dynamics of a flight crew and their maintenance base trying to cope with a mechanical problem en route over the longest single over-the-ocean route in the world: Honolulu to San Francisco.Read more ›
The most dramatic parts were, just as they past the point of no return, and the problems that ensuded. I was on the end of my seat for the rest of the movie. One part was very significant to me.When John smacks Robert Stack around to shake him up, " Fly the airplane" then he was ok. At the end after they have gone through the fire, engines falling off, and all their problems, they finally land. They are meet by the station manager. He looks at the aircraft, looks at John Wayne, and says, "You old pelican" John just walks away. The End. It took me many years to understand what the meaning was. The pelican is the best flying bird in the bird world. The theme music won an academy award.
I was so moved I knew I wanted to be a pilot. I presued it throughout my life. The US Air Force, and Pan American Airways. I was very lucky to have acheived my dream. I am retired from flying now. It would give me gerat pleasure to see this movie with my childern.
Joe Castiglione, Farmingdale, NY
I have never understood why it was not released on video. (I last saw it in 1973 on local TV in Chicago.)
When The Duke died, I accurately predicted that the networks would select the closing scenes of The High and The Mighty as his epitaph--not She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, not Fort Appache, not Stagecoach, not even True Grit. And I was right--he went out with a loving "So long, you ancient pelican."
The grand daddy of the disaster flicks, it is probably hackneyed today (the airplane has propellers for goodness sakes), but the story is first rate and Wayne is marvelous.
Don't miss it if you ever get the chance to see it--you will never forget it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Movie that drags on. A lot of over acting. Wayne at his best in westerns, seemed out of place a little in this.Published 5 days ago by Ron L.
Different type of movie for the Duke but good one anyway. Very dated (1950's) and some performances are really over the top but after all it is a John Wayne movie! Read morePublished 1 month ago by William A Devenney
I have not viewed this film for quite some time, because I've not had access to it via cable TV (TCM, for example). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dianna L. Penny
A good old classic John Wayne film without any horses. Outstanding cast in an exciting plot. Great musical score. A memorable film that set a new role for Wayne. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jerry F. Colet
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