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Before Top Gun, Apollo 13 or The Right Stuff, this breathtaking, jet-fueled journey of high-altitude filmmaking blasted audiences from zero-G to 4,000 miles per hour with its thrilling tale of America's victory in the space race. Starring David McLean, Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore, X-15 sets the sky as the limitfor excitement! The courageous pilots of the Air Force's X-15 program are determined to take an experimental rocket 100 miles above the earth at four times the speed of sound! At stake is American air supremacy and proof that space travelis possible. But also at stake are their lives and the lives of the terrified wives they've left behind!
Frank Sinatra was among the producers for X-15, an interesting space-race film that marked the feature debut of Richard Donner (the Lethal Weapon series, Timeline) and provided an early lead role for Charles Bronson, who leads a solid cast in this occasionally tense, hardware-driven drama. Bronson, David McLean, and Ralph Taeger are test pilots for the X-15 research vehicle, which brought man to the brink of outer space for the first time. The film divides its running time between scenes of the crew testing the rocket and domestic drama involving their wives and girlfriends (played by Mary Tyler Moore, Patricia Owens, and Lizabeth Hush). James Stewart's narration offers an all-American layer to the script, written by James Ward Bellah (whose stories were adapted by John Ford for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Sergeant Rutledge, among others) and producer Tony Lazzarino. Eagle-eyed fans might notice future California congressman Robert Dornan among the ground crew. MGM's widescreen DVD offers no extras. --Paul Gaita
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Sadly, the actual aerial footage, now stretched like taffy, is the main selling point of the movie and the best reason for watching this "semi-documentary" (only the names and all the historical facts have been changed to protect the innocent).
The subplot about the test pilots and the women who love them is laughable. Mary Tyler Moore looks like she just walked off the set of "Dick Van Dyke"- she even dresses the same, even though you never saw Dick shove her down on the sofa, fall on top of her and start kissing her, as in this movie, when she tries to renew her engagement to one of the pilots (Guess Dick didn't have the "Right Stuff"). I think the son of one of the pilots is the same kid who played "Chip" in "My Three Sons", but I'm not sure.
One of the pilots, whose wife has had several miscarriages, is told by a USAF psychiatrist that his wife is subconciously auto-aborting the fetuses because she doesn't think he's going to live long. Someone should have told her that the cigarettes and booze that everyone inhales would be much more hazardous to their health than an X-15! None of this matters, of course, because the film abruptly ends during the last mission without any resolution to all these "personal" problems. You can guess from the beginning that at least one of these guys is going to get killed- but I won't spoil the plot by saying who.
A fun movie just for all the silver jets and yellow sand of Edwards AFB (at least shown in correct aspect ratio on the ground). Watch it on VHS and fast-forward through all the "mushy" stuff!
Yes, the acting & the 'behind the scene' story lines are a little stilted & predictable, and sometimes the 'transfer' from movie film to DVD is not perfect ... but !! the real actors here, are the machines, backup & technology of the times.
Just glance around the 'whole scene' while you are watching these movies, so much happening !
Lucky for today's audiences ...these movies were made with the full blessing of the 'Services' due to the Cold War influence & it must have seemed a great way for them to fire up the general public's empathy & probably thought of as a great recruiting tool at the time ... of course at Hollywood's expense, why not !
Apart from the odd rare documentary on these various Aircraft, the 'Hardstand & Background' scenes, plus the Flying' sequences are going to be remembered for years to come. Who can forget the complete 'F100' series of fighter planes & the full compliment of 'B' Series Bombers from the late Forties right through to the early Sixties ... The advancement of Aviation technology during this time was just astounding & here it is, all on film !
These iconic movies are going to be the visual Bible of aviation history for future generations & all in beautiful Technicolour, CinemaScope, VistaVision etc, you name it .... captured by the very best Cameras of the day.
I think I have now collected most of these kinds of Films that are available, with the help of Google & Amazon, what a find !
I would compare this particular Movie with, 'A Gathering of Eagles', 'Bombers B52', 'Toward the Unknown', 'Above & Beyond', 'Strategic Air Command' and of course the much later 'The Right Stuff' which is more of a Tribute film to this whole era.
Even the much criticized movie 'Memphis Belle' is a great visual record. Who can forget the tough beauty & faithfulness of the 'B.17' bomber. 'Lest we forget' ! ~ Raymond G.W. Whiteman. Toowoomba, Australia.