No Highway in the Sky (1951)

98-99 mins | Drama | October 1951

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was No Highway . The picture was reviewed by Var under the title No Highway , which was also the British release title. As noted in contemporary sources, the picture was filmed on location in Denham, at Denham Studios. An 11 Nov 1949 HR news item reported that Newfoundland would also be a location site, but it has not been determined if any of the picture was shot there. A modern source lists Blackbushe Airport, in Hampshire, England, as an additional location. Nov 1950 HR news items noted that James Stewart underwent an emergency appendectomy in London while the film was in production.
       According to a 22 Aug 1951 LADN article, a special advance showing of No Highway in the Sky was to be held that night in Los Angeles as a tribute to Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographer Frank Filan. Filan, who was ill at the time of the screening, was best known for his photographs of the Marine invasion of Tarawa during World War II. A modern source adds the following names to the crew credits: Prod supv Robert Dearing; 2d unit dir Herbert Mason; and Marlene Dietrich's ward Christian Dior. On 28 Apr 1952, Stewart and Dietrich reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, which co-starred Evelynne ... More Less

The working title of this film was No Highway . The picture was reviewed by Var under the title No Highway , which was also the British release title. As noted in contemporary sources, the picture was filmed on location in Denham, at Denham Studios. An 11 Nov 1949 HR news item reported that Newfoundland would also be a location site, but it has not been determined if any of the picture was shot there. A modern source lists Blackbushe Airport, in Hampshire, England, as an additional location. Nov 1950 HR news items noted that James Stewart underwent an emergency appendectomy in London while the film was in production.
       According to a 22 Aug 1951 LADN article, a special advance showing of No Highway in the Sky was to be held that night in Los Angeles as a tribute to Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographer Frank Filan. Filan, who was ill at the time of the screening, was best known for his photographs of the Marine invasion of Tarawa during World War II. A modern source adds the following names to the crew credits: Prod supv Robert Dearing; 2d unit dir Herbert Mason; and Marlene Dietrich's ward Christian Dior. On 28 Apr 1952, Stewart and Dietrich reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, which co-starred Evelynne Eaton. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Jul 1951.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1951.
---
Film Daily
18 Jul 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 48
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 50
p 10.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 50
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 1951.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
22 Aug 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Sep 1951.
---
New York Times
21 Sep 51
p. 19.
New York Times
22 Sep 51
p. 8.
Time
8-Oct-51
---
Variety
4 Jul 51
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Wilfred Hyde White
Philip Ray
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Ward supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel No Highway by Nevil Shute (London, 1948).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
No Highway
Release Date:
October 1951
Premiere Information:
London opening: 2 August 1951
Los Angeles opening: 14 September 1951
New York opening: 21 September 1951
Production Date:
18 September--late December 1950 at Denham Studios, London
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
14 September 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1342
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
98-99
Length(in feet):
6,062
Length(in reels):
10
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14864
SYNOPSIS

On his first day of work at the Royal Airforce Establishment, metallurgist Dennis Scott meets eccentric scientist Theodore Honey, an American who has lived in England for many years. Scott is intrigued by Honey's assertion that the establishment's newest airplane design, the Reindeer, is flawed because after 1,440 hours of flight time, the plane's vibrations will cause the tail to fall off. After work, Scott offers Honey a ride home and meets his twelve-year-old daughter Elspeth, whose English mother died during a World War II bombing raid. Scott is aghast to discover that Honey, who views mathematics as a pure, abstract science, did not include his computations in his preliminary report, and that his daily testing of a Reindeer tail will not be completed before the Reindeer planes in service have exceeded the 1,440 hour mark. Scott reprimands Honey, pointing out that the formula might be important to the people aboard a Reindeer plane, but Honey responds that as a scientist, he cannot be concerned about people. Later, Scott investigates the crash of a prototype Reindeer and learns that the tail section was not found at the crash site in Labrador. Scott sends Honey to Labrador to locate the missing wreckage, and while boarding the plane, Honey does not notice that it is a Reindeer. On board, the nervous Honey is calmed by stewardess Marjorie Corder, who is amused to learn that the first-time flyer is an aviation scientist. Also aboard is glamorous film star Monica Teasdale, and when Honey discovers that the plane is a Reindeer and that it has been flying for 1,422 hours, he advises Monica and Marjorie that the ... +


On his first day of work at the Royal Airforce Establishment, metallurgist Dennis Scott meets eccentric scientist Theodore Honey, an American who has lived in England for many years. Scott is intrigued by Honey's assertion that the establishment's newest airplane design, the Reindeer, is flawed because after 1,440 hours of flight time, the plane's vibrations will cause the tail to fall off. After work, Scott offers Honey a ride home and meets his twelve-year-old daughter Elspeth, whose English mother died during a World War II bombing raid. Scott is aghast to discover that Honey, who views mathematics as a pure, abstract science, did not include his computations in his preliminary report, and that his daily testing of a Reindeer tail will not be completed before the Reindeer planes in service have exceeded the 1,440 hour mark. Scott reprimands Honey, pointing out that the formula might be important to the people aboard a Reindeer plane, but Honey responds that as a scientist, he cannot be concerned about people. Later, Scott investigates the crash of a prototype Reindeer and learns that the tail section was not found at the crash site in Labrador. Scott sends Honey to Labrador to locate the missing wreckage, and while boarding the plane, Honey does not notice that it is a Reindeer. On board, the nervous Honey is calmed by stewardess Marjorie Corder, who is amused to learn that the first-time flyer is an aviation scientist. Also aboard is glamorous film star Monica Teasdale, and when Honey discovers that the plane is a Reindeer and that it has been flying for 1,422 hours, he advises Monica and Marjorie that the men's bathroom is the safest place in the event of a crash. The pilot is baffled by Honey's frantic claims that the plane's tail will fall off, although Honey's sincerity convinces Monica and Marjorie. The plane lands safely at Gander, however, and while it is being re-fueled, the captain orders a thorough inspection. Convinced that Honey is crazy, the captain orders him detained, but Honey, who has realized that people are more important than mathematics, sabotoges the plane so that it cannot take off. Honey's instinctive reaction to the unseen danger convinces Monica that he was right, and after she and Marjorie return to London, both look after Elspeth. While Honey is delayed by the authorities in Gander, Monica visits the RAE's director, Sir John, and Scott to tell them that Honey is not crazy. Sir John and Scott are uncertain what to do, for if Honey's theory is correct, the RAE will be liable for authorizing an unsafe design, and the airline utilizing the Reindeers will lose a fortune. Scott accelerates Honey's laboratory test, much to the chagrin of Honey, who has returned to London. Scott convinces Honey of the necessity of the twenty-four-hour testing, however, and while Honey works at the laboratory, Marjorie continues to care for Elspeth. Both Monica and Marjorie have grown fond of Honey, but Monica, realizing that she could never fit into his world, leaves for America. While the test continues, Sir John prepares for an upcoming committee meeting, and Honey is interviewed by psychiatrists to determine if his actions in Gander were caused by mental illness. After 1,522 hours, the tail in Honey's laboratory has not failed, and he begins to wonder if his critics are right. Marjorie urges Honey to defend himself at the committee's review, but Honey, determined to hide in his laboratory and have no further interactions with people, asserts that he will say nothing. Marjorie reminds him that he cannot return to his past isolation, and that if he does not determine the truth about the Reindeers, flight attendants like her will be the ones to suffer. At the inquiry, the committee decides that they cannot ground Reindeers based on Honey's unsubstantiated theories, and Honey finally speaks out, asserting that he will sabotage Reindeer planes until his theories come to the public's attention and they refuse to fly on them. Honey then quits his job and returns home, where Marjorie praises him for defending his beliefs. Upon discovering that Honey is so disorganized that he has not cashed his paychecks, Marjorie declares that she will marry him and care for him and Elspeth. Happy, Honey returns to his office, and is packing his belongings when Scott and Sir John burst in to tell him that the Labrador crash site has been investigated, and the Reindeer's tail section was responsible for the wreck. Marjorie also arrives, and while they talk, the test Reindeer collapses. As Scott and Marjorie rejoice in Honey's vindication, the bemused scientist realizes that he forgot to incorporate temperature variations into his calculations. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.