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The High and the Mighty (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

4.6 out of 5 stars 404 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The co-pilot keeps his cool on a plane running out of fuel en route to San Francisco. Directed by William Wellman.

Additional Features

Batjac is a strong, legendary-sounding name--the corporate logo for the last among several production companies John Wayne established, and the evocative catch-all label to designate the producer-star's late-career legacy apart from his milestone work with the likes of John Ford and Howard Hawks. The name seems to summon up associations with flying and Native American culture and maybe a lean jungle cat... but it was a made-up word that had been applied to an East Indian trading company in Wayne's little-remembered 1948 production Wake of the Red Witch. The actor took it for his own company, the one he formed after breaking with his Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty partner in Wayne-Fellows Productions (Robert Fellows). He chose it because he remembered he'd enjoyed pronouncing it while making Red Witch. It was Batjack back then, with a k, and it was supposed to be Batjack again--only the first order of stationery came back with the name misspelled, and rather than spring several hundred bucks for a new batch, Wayne let "Batjac" stand.

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

Special Features

  • Disc One:
  • Introduction by Leonard Maltin
  • Commentary by Leonard Maltin, William Wellman, Jr., Karen Sharpe, Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales and aviation expert Vincent Longo
  • Disc Two:
  • Featurettes:
  • The Batjac Story
  • Stories from the Set
  • On Director William A. Wellman
  • The Music and World of Dimitri Tiomkin
  • Restoring a Classic
  • A Place in Film History
  • Ernest K. Gann: Adventurer, Author, Artist
  • Flying in the Fifties
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Trailer
  • Batjac Montage
  • The High and the Mighty Premiere Footage
  • Photo Gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Laraine Day, Robert Stack, Jan Sterling
  • Directors: William A. Wellman
  • Writers: Ernest K. Gann
  • Producers: John Wayne, Robert Fellows
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Collector's Edition, Color, Subtitled, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2005
  • Run Time: 147 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009ML2KQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,075 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The High and the Mighty (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
Tied up for years in the John Wayne estate has been the re-release of this 1954 movie, "The High and the Mighty". (which won the Academy Award for Best Song that year...look for a plaque at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood when you visit there).
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.
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I originally viewed this film at it's debut in 1954. The memories are as seen from a 10 year old boy's eyes. I was overwhelemed by the color, the sound, and John Wayne. His character of Dan the co-pilot was excellent. Even than I could see he was the star. That was my first John Wayne movie. I was hooked. I lived in a large city, and I had never taken a flight anywhere. I became cosumed by airplanes. The different people, and how they were all connected to John's character.
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
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Verified Purchase
I first saw this movie as a boy, and was captivated by the opening dialog, in which Wayne's character was described as "The only man I ever knew who was brave enough not to commit suicide!"
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.
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I first saw The High and the Mighty in 1953 when I was only 12 years old. I decided then that I wanted to be an "airline stewardess". I never did achieve that goal. I have desparately tried to find the movie for years. It left such a wonderful memory and THAT MUSIC! I would also love to have the soundtrack from the movie. In the late 50's, I lived in Carmel and went to high school with two of Ernest K. Gann's kids. Had I only known then, I probably could have gotten a copy of the movie, very easily. I didn't know at the time that movie would always haunt me. I join all of you in waiting until the estate of John Wayne allows it to be released. Why they are focusing on witholding that particular movie of Mr. Wayne's, I find very interesting. PLEASE, PLEASE, ALLOW THE RELEASE! Does anyone out there know how we, as a group, could write and plead with the family!
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By A Customer on December 26, 2001
The High and the Mighty has always been one of my - if not my - favorite movie. I remember watching it as a kid, and would always look for it on TV whenever it was shown. It is a classic airline disastor movie with high suspense and wonderful charactor development. This is John Wayne at his best, and even though you know it has to have a happy ending, you still are on the edge of your seat everytime you see this movie. I am lucky enough to have a VHS copy that I taped from the TV years ago, but would love to see it released on DVD. I don't know why this particular movie is still under a legal gun, but I hope someone comes to their senses and lets it be released so all can enjoy.
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