“Tell me what’s wrong with this airplane!”
When an airplane en route from Honolulu to San Francisco starts losing fuel, its passengers and pilots (Robert Stack and John Wayne) prepare for an ocean landing.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Airplanes and Pilots
- Claire Trevor Films
- David Brian Films
- Disaster Flicks
- Ensemble Cast
- Jan Sterling Films
- John Qualen Films
- John Wayne Films
- Robert Newton Films
- Robert Stack Films
- William Wellman Films
It’s impossible to watch William Wellman’s The High and the Mighty without thinking about the countless times its basic premise has been spoofed — most notably in the Zucker brothers’ comedy classic Airplane! (1980). Indeed, as a “straight” melodrama, The High and the Mighty falls flat, with hopelessly cliched characters, truly laughable dialogue (“How can I ever be afraid when you hold me like this?”), and not nearly enough genuine drama or excitement for a disaster flick. Unavailable for many years, this film developed nearly a cult following (see posts on IMDb), with fans clamoring for its release on DVD; but its appeal will ultimately be limited to either devotees of John Wayne (who, surprisingly, doesn’t dominate the proceedings), or those anxious to see the film which inspired Airplane!.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Countless spoofable moments and characters — including pilot Robert Stack, who would later “reprise” his role in Airplane! (1980)
No, but it’s worth a look as perhaps the definitive “airplane disaster” flick.