NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY (aka: NO HIGHWAY)
(director: Henry Koster; screenwriters: R. C. Sherriff/Oscar Millard/Alec Coppel/based on the novel No Highway by Nevil Shute; cinematographer: Georges Perinal; editor: Manuel del Campo; music: Malcolm Arnold; cast: James Stewart (Theodore Honey), Marlene Dietrich (Monica Teasdale), Glynis Johns (Marjorie Corder), Jack Hawkins (Dennis Scott), Janette Scott (Elspeth Honey), Elizabeth Allan (Shirley Scott), Ronald Squire (Sir John), Jill Clifford (Peggy Miller), Niall MacGinnis (Captain Samuelson, Pilot), Hugh Wakefield (Sir David Moon, Airline President); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Louis D. Lighton; 20th Century Fox; 1951-UK)
“American military war hero pilot James Stewart plays the eccentric Yank scientist working for a British airline, and gives one of his better and more pleasing performances as someone kindhearted but a bit daffy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
One of the early disaster pictures. It’s based on the 1948 novel No Highway by Nevil Shute. American military war hero pilot James Stewart plays the eccentric Yank scientist working for a British airline, and gives one of his better and more pleasing performances as someone kindhearted but a bit daffy. Henry Koster (“The Bishop’s Wife”/ “Harvey”/”My Cousin Rachel”)efficiently directs and the writers are R. C. Sherriff, Oscar Millard and Alec Coppel.
Dedicated airplane engineer for the Royal Airforce Establishment, Theodore Honey (James Stewart), tests for structural weakness in the tail of the new Reindeer airplanes, believing over a certain amount of time, at the 1440 hour mark, vibrations will cause a crash. He explains in detail to his new plant manager boss Dennis Scott (Jack Hawkins) his theory, who believes the scientist is sincere but doesn’t understand what he’s saying–yet backs him up with his boss Sir John (Ronald Squire). When a Reindeer designed plane with a lot of mileage crashes in Labrador, the scientist is flown there to examine the tail wreckage. When the timid scientist discovers he’s flying on a Reindeer designed plane and that the mileage accumulated would indicate the tail will fall off due to metal fatigue, he forces the pilot to make an emergency landing in Gander to check it out. When there appears to be nothing wrong with the plane, it’s set to take off without the scientist. But Honey’s so sure he’s right, that he disables the plane so it can’t fly and is brought back to London for psychological tests.
An unconvincing cautionary romance takes place back in London between the absent-minded widowed father of the brainy/geeky 12-year-old Elspeth (Janette Scott) and the passenger, the famous international sexy actress Monica Teasdale (Marlene Dietrich), and the sweet young widowed stewardess Marjorie Corder (Glynis Johns), who both stick by their man when his sanity is attacked and the big boss (Hugh Wakefield) is ready to throw the little fish out on the tarmac. The domesticated stewardess’ love seems more sincere because she sticks around while Honey’s test is completed to find out if he was right or not, while Teasdale splits to Hollywood to make another film.
The one-dimensional characters add no emotional depth, especially when the awkward romance is tossed onto the airplane drama; but Stewart plays a likable character that translates into a rather genial pic with much appeal. Interesting enough, the first commercial jet airliners began to crash due to the similar metal fatigue Shute wrote about.
REVIEWED ON 8/14/2011 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/