EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SOUND BARRIER, THE (aka: BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER) (director: David Lean; screenwriter: Terence Rattigan; cinematographer: Jack Hildyard; editor: ; music: Malcolm Arnold; cast: Ralph Richardson (J.R. Ridgefield), Ann Todd (Sue Ridgefield Garthwaite), Nigel Patrick (Tony Garthwaite), John Justin (Philip Peel), Joseph Tomelty (Will Scott), Denholm Elliott (Christopher Ridgefield), Dinah Sheridan (Jess Peel); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Lean; Lionsgate; 1952-UK)|
|"It's both Lean's
technical know-how and his ability to make the melodrama moving that
makes this a superior film of this ilk."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
David Lean ("Lawrence of Arabia"/"Dr. Zhivago"/"Blithe
Spirit") directs this curio
and white visionary Jet Age film about test pilots trying to break the
sound barrier by using cutting edge jet technology. The film can
be classified as a work of science fiction (since it concerns a scientific
filled with good British aerial footage from the
1950s and also features the comet airliner, the world's first jet
passenger plane. The taut and literate screenplay is by Terence Rattigan, who mixes in some
domestic upset into his fictional heroic flying story. It's both Lean's
and his ability to make the melodrama moving that makes this a superior
film of this ilk. It's only loosely based on the true story of
Havilland, a test pilot and aircraft designer and manufacturer who
is an ace RAF fighter
pilot during World War II. He marries Sue Ridgefield (Ann Todd, the
director's wife). Her wealthy oil magnate father, J.R.
Richardson), also designs and manufactures airplanes.
The tycoon obsesses over building the first jet to break the sound
barrier, as he's wrapped up in patriotic and egocentric desires to
succeed. Tony volunteers to test those experimental jets, but Sue
becomes increasingly frightened that her ambitious driven father takes
too many risks and cares more about breaking the record and making
history than the human cargo. Already dad's first son was killed on his
first solo attempt. Sue will become estranged from dad when Tony
crashes and dad seems more interested in what's wrong with the jet.
It's upper-crust stiff upper-lip Brit
stuff, but it more or less transfers well into contemporary times (the
elite use "gosh" in their speak too often for moderns) and maintains an
even as a peacetime film. Also, the acting is top-flight.
Of note, the sound barrier
had been broken five years earlier in October, 1947
by the American Chuck Yeager--something the pic chooses to ignore for
its own purposes.
REVIEWED ON 9/8/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ