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Toward The Unknown (Remastered)

4.4 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

William Holden goes where no man's gone before in director Mervyn LeRoy's high-flying aviation adventure. Tortured into making a false confession while a POW in Korea, Major Lincoln Bond (Holden) returns to active service as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base. Determined to clear his name, Bond battles a hard-nosed base commander (Lloyd Nolan), prejudiced officers and his own insecurities in hopes of landing the most coveted - and dangerous - test project of all: the Bell X-2 rocket plane. The first and only film made by Holden's own company, Toward the Unknown features an X-2 mockup especially built for the production by Bell Aircraft and marks the screen debut of James Garner, whose TV series Maverick would make him a household name just a year later.

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Product Details

  • Actors: William Holden, Lloyd Nolan, Virginia Leith, Charles Mcgraw
  • Directors: Mervyn Leroy
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: WB
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2011
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00508W3MU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,351 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Terry Sunday TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2011
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"Toward the Unknown," released on October 20, 1956, and FINALLY available on DVD, is, in my opinion as a lifelong airplane buff and recently retired aerospace engineer, simply one of the very best aviation films ever made, bar none.

A thrilling showcase of Cold-War-era jet and rocket aircraft and harrowing flight test operations, filmed on location at California's Edwards Air Force Base, it stars William Holden as Air Force Major Lincoln Bond and Lloyd Nolan as General William Banner. In the screenplay by Beirne Lay, Jr., Bond is an ex-fighter pilot who carries the stigma of having broken under the pressure of communist brainwashing while he was a POW after being shot down over Korea. The steps that he forces himself to take in order to prove to General Banner that he is fit enough to fly the supersonic rocket planes then being tested at Edwards is an interesting and absorbing tale, if a bit drawn-out dramatically.

But the aircraft are the real stars of the show, and "Toward the Unknown" has them in abundance, with outstanding aerial photography of planes you will not see anywhere else in filmdom. For example, this is the only place to see actual footage of the Martin XB-51 bomber in flight (disguised with fake markings as the "Gilbert XF-120"). You'll see North American F-100 "Super Sabres," Lockheed F-94 "Starfires" and many other classic, historic jets that were really flying at the time. One of the most significant aircraft featured at length in "Toward the Unknown" is the Bell X-2 rocket plane. Carried aloft by a Boeing B-50 "Superfortress," the X-2 investigated flight at speeds and altitudes far beyond those of the X-1, in which Captain Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager first exceeded the speed of sound on October 14, 1947.
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I suppose that the decision whether or not to buy this DVD-R of Toward the Unknown depends upon how long you've wanted see this movie on home video. For me it has been decades--waiting for a VHS, a CED disc, a laser or a DVD of this terrific movie. I've got the DVD-R and it is okay. There is some color shifting during dissolves between scenes but other than that this widescreen look at Edwards Air Force Base in the middle of its golden decade is sensational. If you, like me, wonder what became of the wild blue yonder you will be delighted with this release. Don't think twice--aim high, go for it.
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This film is partially based on the treatment of some actual pilots, like WW II and Korean War ace Walker Mahurin, that were captured by the North Koreans and tortured into signing fake confessions of atrocities. Some of these men were treated pretty badly by the Air Force upon their return to America. William Holden's character is one of those men. The real reason to watch this is the really impressive shots of Edwards AFB during the early years of the jet age. The panorama of real aircraft on the ramp and the aerial photography are the best parts of the film.
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TOWARD THE UNKNOWN IS ONE OF THE GREATEST FLYING MOVIES EVER MADE. WHEN I FIRST SAW THIS MOVIE IN A THEATER ON A GIANT SCREEN IT LITERALLY BLEW ME AWAY.
IT WAS ONE OF TWO MOVIES AT THE TIME, THAT SHOWED THE AIR FORCES WAY OF TESTING NEW HIGH ALTITUDE AIRCRAFT. IT WAS A WELL ACTED PIECE, WITH WILLIAM HOLDEN AS A FORMER ACE TEST PILOT TRYING TO REGAIN HIS HONOR AFTER THE KOREAN WAR, BY TESTING NEW JET AIRCRAFT. THE GENERAL PLAYED BY LLOYD NOLAN IS WONDERFUL AS THE MAN WHO GIVE HOLDEN HIS CHANCE. THE MOVIE ALSO HAS A GREAT CAST OF WELL KNOWN ACTORS, WHO SHINE IN EACH OF THERE ROLES. THERE ARE ALSO SOME GREAT ACTION SCENES OF AIRCRAFT BEING TESTED, ALONG WITH A LITTLE TRAGEDY MIXED IN.
I DO HEARTLY RECOMMEND THIS MOVIE TO ANYONE WHO HAS AN INTEREST IN FLYING. THE OTHER MOVIE I WAS REFERRING TO IS "ON THE THRESHOLD OF SPACE" WITH GUY MADISON. I HOPE THAT IT TO WILL FIND THE LIGHT OF DAY ON DVD SOON. MANY THANKS JEFF BEMBARON
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Although this isn't a great film from the point of view of character development, or even acting performances, it has some milestone events that are important to consider ... and for me, it was an amazing experience because I had seen it in 1956 (4 times actually, and got into big trouble for leaving for the movie theatre at 10:00 a.m. and not showing up at home until 10:00 p.m. ... at the age of nine years). I loved aviation movies then, love them now, and this one has some key scenes of '50s military aircraft hardware that I haven't seen in decades. It's also James Garner's first movie, which makes it interesting from that viewpoint. I'm not certain that someone who did not sit, enthralled by this heading-for-the-edge-of-space movie, during their formative years would find it as exhilarating as I did, but for anyone who is an aviation enthusiast and has an interest in the pioneers of this era, this is a very interesting film to watch. It isn't a documentary, but it's based on enough factual data to make it a credible and enjoyable experience.
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For once I bought a movie on Amazon that lived up to the high scores on reviews. The token love story wasn't bad and worked for this one. Acting was excellent, especially and as usual Holden. And per other reviewers here, the aviation footage is spectacular. All in color. A very important of United States pioneering aviation history preserved!

Note early on in the movie Holden walks past the X-2 and the cockpit windows design is an identical match for the helmets of Darth Vader's storm troopers of Star Wars fame. No joke, Spielberg and Lucas clearly lifted it from this movie and used it for the helmet design. No, I'm not crazy. Take a look! Just like they also lifted the Star Wars I death star attack sequence cockpit crew camera shots right out of "Mosquito Squadron" starring Cliff Robertson. Go on. Take a look at that one, too.

I also think parts of "The Right Stuff" was also adapted from this movie. Notice the far off crash smoke from James Garner's plane matches that seen in "The Right Stuff" when Yeager's F-104 crashes in the desert. The camera angle and cinematic photography is a match. The only thing "The Right Stuff" has on this flick is the advanced production capabilities brought by decades of growth in the movie-making industry. But that's all. I liked this movie much better. Because of the whole "Edwards AFB" real looks and the real shots of the aircraft of the time, it just seems more real to me. This movie was made when all the advances in aviation depicted in "The Right Stuff" were actually and simultaneously taking place. I think this gives it a much more authentic feel as a result.

I really enjoyed this movie. More than worth the purchase price. As other reviewers have noted, you'll watch it multiple times for the chance to see these historic airplanes fly again.
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