The High and the Mighty

I was stuck in a hotel room this past weekend while on travel for work. Flicking through the channels on the tube, I ran across a John Wayne movie entitled Islands in the Sky. The Duke plays a pilot stranded somwhere in the Yukon. During the movie, AMC graciously displayed little crawls along the bottom of the screen announcing that the upcoming feature following this one would be another John Wayne flick, The High and The Mighty.

Being a nominal Wayne fan, I stuck around to watch it.

The Duke plays another pilot in this one; an airline pilot. Robert Stack is in it also. Watching this movie, I felt as if I was watching the genesis of all the future “Airport” and, of course, “Airplane” movies. I saw all of the scenes that would later be riffed on, in seriousness and in jest. At one point, I was laughing loud while poor old Robert Stack was getting bitch-slapped by the Duke himself.

The next day I read in the paper that these two movies were meticulously remastered at the insistence of John Wayne’s daughter-in-law and their release on DVD are supposed to rekindle interest amoung younger folks in John Wayne movies.

Anyhow, did anyone else catch these movies and get that same sense of deja-vu?

Saw most of Island in the Sky. Thought it had more holes than a Dunkin Donuts. Now mind you, I’m a 46 y.o. old movie fan who had high hopes for this flick when I stumbled upon it this weekend, not some dismissive youngster.

My biggest rolly-eyes moments were watching how the crew acted like cranking the emergency transmitter was like single-handedly rowing the Queen Mary across the Atlantic. I mean, how hard can it be, especially with the temperature so low. Hell, I would have volunteered to do crank duty all day.

Also, I did not see the beginning of the movie, but I assume there was still plenty of gas in the plane. It wouldn’t be too hard to rig up a wick-style heater using the gas as fuel that would have kept them warm for weeks or longer. Then the only problem would be lack of food – a serious matter to be sure, but one that is easily survivable until the rescuers locate them when the better weather returns.

Like I said, lots of holes.

Both of these films are owned by John Wayne’s production company, Batjac Productions. The High and the Mighty in particular was one of the most-requested John Wayne films never officially released on home video, and was in such bad condition that it took ten years to restore. Paramount Pictures is hoping that today’s teenagers will be turned on to The Duke, and are even placing an ad for these new DVDs on the Adam Sandler film The Longest Yard. (citation, pilgrim)

You have to remember that all the disaster-in-the-skies ripped off all the previous diaster-in-the-skies movies.

To avoid being sued, the producers of Airplane bought the rights to an old pot-boiler named Zero Hour – where the passengers and crew get food poisoning and a coward has to land the plane. That movie actually includes lines “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking” and featured an ex-jock as one of the pilots.

Zero Hour was written by Arthur Hailey, who later wrote the screenplays for Airport, Airport 1975, Airport 19977, Airport 1979.

Incidentally, Dana Andrews, who played the pilot in ZH, was also in The Crowded Sky, Wing and a Prayer, and … Airport 1975

Wow, it’s deja vu all over again.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to try coding!

It is, after all, a John Wayne movie. I would think one would be hard-pressed to come up with a John Wayne movie that didn’t have a number of obvious plot holes.

Mmmmm, it was a long time ago, but what about The Quiet Man ?

Got the DVD. Sure is strange, now that it’s half a century since it was made. For a moment I was confused as to why passengers would ahve to report to Immigration on a flight from Hawaii to California. Hawaii’s always been a state while I’ve been alive. This film was made five years before Hawaii gained statehood!

How about that, people getting on an airplane without going through security? Just put the gun in your pocket and walk aboard. And how small the airplane is!

A couple of things I noticed: Inflating the LPUs before ditching. That would make it hard to get out, especially if you have to swim down to an exit! And ‘If we can only stay airborne for another 30 seconds.’ ‘Full flaps!’ Erm… Full flaps are an excellent way to lose altitude!

Miss Chin was writing a letter to her brother. She mentions to the stewardess (an un-PC term now) that it surprised her not to see men with guns at the airport. Heh. Times have changed.

I’ve forgotten one of the lines I liked, but here are a couple of others:

‘Yup. Dan’s the only guy I ever knew who had guts enough not to commit suicide.’

‘So long, you ancient pelican!’