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NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY

             

For Hicksflicks.com, Sept. 6, 2013

Here's one of those movies I am often asked about, "No Highway in the Sky," and at last it has been released by the manufacture-on-demand label Fox Cinema Archives (1951, b/w, $19.98).

Based on a novel by Nevil Shute, the film stars James Stewart, excellent as a widowed aircraft engineer with a young daughter, living in England and trying to prove his theory that metal fatigue may be to blame for some plane crashes. When he finds himself aboard such an aircraft he takes drastic action to keep it from flying again.

Discredited for his actions, and even having his sanity questioned, Stewart continues his tests to prove his theory, though he becomes discouraged after a time. In the interim, he meets a famous actress (Marlene Dietrich) who tries to help him and a stewardess (Glynis Johns) with whom he becomes romantically involved.

"No Highway in the Sky" is mostly a character drama although it has elements that qualify the film as one of the first "disaster" pictures. In terms of its investigatory nature, it also resembles the later film "Fate Is the Hunter" (1964), and when Stewart tries to convince people aboard a plane of his theory and is thought to be going mad, it may resonate with those who have seen the 1963 "Twilight Zone" episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," which was remade for the 1983 film "Twilight Zone — The Movie."

According to Wikipedia, life imitated art when, two years after the film's release (and three years after the novel's publication), there were two fatal crashes attributed to metal fatigue.