The High and the Mighty


The High and the Mighty

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 8


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,547
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The High and the Mighty Photos

Movie Info

For The High and the Mighty, director William Wellman made a point of using Cinemascope to heighten the dramatic content of a confined screen space -- in this instance, the cockpit of a plane in flight. Copilot Dan Roman (John Wayne) seems a lot more in control of things than Captain John Sullivan (Robert Stack) when the plane loses an engine during a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco. Wellman crosscuts from the tension in the cockpit to the various subplots involving the plane's passengers, among them May Holst (Claire Trevor), Lydia Rice (Laraine Day), Howard Rice (John Howard), Sally McKee (Jan Sterling), Ed Joseph (Phil Harris), and Humphrey Agnew (Sidney Blackmer) (as a character named Humphrey Agnew -- a remarkable prescient cognomen given the future of the U.S. vice presidency!). Adapted by Ernest K. Gann from his best-selling novel, The High and the Mighty was one of the first (and most profitable) entries in the "terror in the sky" genre. Its theme music, written by Dimitri Tiomkin and whistled incessantly by John Wayne in the film, would later become a best-selling hit throughout the world. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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John Wayne
as Dan Roman
Robert Stack
as John Sullivan
Claire Trevor
as May Holst
Laraine Day
as Lydia Rice
Jan Sterling
as Sally McKee
Phil Harris
as Ed Joseph
Robert Newton
as Gustave Pardee
David Brian
as Ken Childs
Paul Kelly
as Flaherty
Sidney Blackmer
as Humphrey Agnew
Doe Avedon
as Miss Spaulding
Karen Sharpe
as Nell Buck
John Smith
as Milo Buck
Julie Bishop
as Lillian Pardee
John Howard
as Howard Rice
William Campbell
as Hobie Wheeler
Ann Doran
as Mrs. Joseph
John Qualen
as Jose Locota
Paul Fix
as Frank Briscoe
George Chandler
as Ben Sneed
Joy Kim
as Dorothy Chen
Michael Wellman
as Toby Field
Regis Toomey
as Garfield
Robert Keys
as Lt. Mowbray
Robert Easton
as Cargo Clerk
Philip Van Zandt
as Mr. Wilson
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Critic Reviews for The High and the Mighty

All Critics (8)

Audience Reviews for The High and the Mighty

  • Oct 16, 2013
    Silly bit of John Wayne foolery. It was a standard to put Wayne in non westerns to continue his interpretation of the perfect American frontiersmen in plots outside of the Old West. In most cases, it doesn't work.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2009
    A good "Danger in the Skies" movie, which features Wayne in a non-western role, playing an "ancient Pelican" that is, an airline Pilot with a grim past. Yet, when something goes wrong on an transcontinental flight, he might redeem himself. The film mixes both what is going on within the faltering plane as well as discusses the passengers lives, through flashbacks, conversations on the plane and voiceovers. While it works superficially, it makes the movie feel episodic sometimes (like an episode of LOST), and flashbacks and voiceovers have never been my most appreciated tools of narration. Especially in an aviation disaster scenario, where density and continuity should be in focus. Still, the cast is solid and Wayne plays as great as ever. And the movie is shot in lushly coloured Cinemascope.
    Henrik S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 16, 2007
    Fanastic little disaster film classic of the airborne with John Wayne where it strikes high above the Pacific Ocean at the point of no return. This film has more than enough fine moments generated by a cast of familiar faces to keep me interest. I didn't know this adventure film has six Academy Awards nominated that I was surprised to find out.
    Dean M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 24, 2007
    Long before "Airport" (1970) ushered in a long line of airline disaster movies, there was "The High and the Mighty". This 1954 film features Robert Stack as a pilot trying to make San Francisco with a disabled plane and forty frightened passengers. John Wayne is the veteran co-pilot and the voice of reason on what may be their last flight. According to the DVD commentary, Spencer Tracey was originally signed to play Wayne's role but bowed out at the last minute. Lucky for us Duke fans that he did because John Wayne turned in what may be his most understated and under appreciated performance ever.
    Kevin S Super Reviewer

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