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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
You will not be happy with any 50s movie, much less this one.
John Wayne gives a powerful performance, one of many in a sterling cast including Claire Trevor, Robert Stack, Phil Harris and Jan Sterling.
I remember watching this movie as a young kid, loved it then, love it now... it's a classic John Wayne!
The High and the Mighty, 1954 film
This is a story about a flight from Hawaii to California on a four engine propeller driven airliner. Read more
Another "classic" John Wayne film with a great cast! A terrific story of " trouble in the skies" and how the crew deals with it. Read morePublished 27 days ago by ALAN CHAMBERS
As a pilot's wife it's difficult to find movies he will watch without adding his critiques. This one was watched with quiet enjoyment.Published 1 month ago by zuwolf