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The Crowded Sky

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The Crowded Sky
Crowded sky.jpg
Directed byJoseph Pevney
Produced byMichael Garrison
Screenplay byCharles Schnee
Based onThe Crowded Sky
by Hank Searls[1]
StarringDana Andrews
Rhonda Fleming
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Music byLeonard Rosenman
CinematographyHarry Stradling Sr.
Edited byTom McAdoo
Warner Bros
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
September 2, 1960 (1960-09-02)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Crowded Sky is a 1960 Technicolor drama film produced by Michael Garrison, directed by Joseph Pevney,[2] and starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.[3] [Note 1] The Crowded Sky is based on the novel of the same name by Hank Searls. The film was distributed by Warner Bros.

The film's storyline follows the back stories of the crew and passengers of a US Navy jet and a commercial airliner carrying a full load of passengers during a bout of severe weather.[5] Other issues such as a malfunctioning radio make it nearly impossible to communicate with air traffic control and set the two aircraft on a collision course.[4]

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Oh, yes. Mr. Scott. Thank you, sergeant. Sir. Mr. Scott, sir. Well, Mr. Scott. You must be anxious to get at it. I thought you'd take a day or two to get settled before showing up. Mrs. Scott seemed to have that department pretty well in hand. I see. Nothing like somewhere to go while the curtains are being hung, eh? That's about it, sir. I know what you mean. Did you find a nice flat? Have they fixed you up with a good office here? - Quite all right on both counts. - Good. You'll want to take a good look around before you take over. Find out what's going on. Then when you're ready, we'll have a talk. - Pretty thing, isn't it? - Yes. It's the new reindeer, isn't it, sir? - Not hard to recognize by that tail. - It's made of the same metal as the plane. - A new alloy they've developed. - Very nice. Major Pearl will show you everything you want to see. He knows more about the place than I do. You're in good hands with him. We sometimes call him "The pearl of great price." Good. I'm in your hands. I thought we'd start in just after lunch. - In an hour, a little more. You could make a start. - Yes, sir. Fine. I'll see you in the mess at 1:00. Buy you a Sherry. I'm so glad you're here, Mr. Scott. I've been looking forward to it. So have I, sir John. That's the original building... The balloon shed. Began here with balloons in the '70s. That's a very long time. All the strength tests to check safety factor grouped here. Lot of work just to find out if the engineer mucked up his mathematics. Nothing much to see until something breaks. And that always happens when you're somewhere else. Not much point in this. Flying boats are pretty well obsolete, of course. Part of boffins' paradise, this is. Mind your step. You know, the scientist lads. Basic research. The kind who eat their porridge with a slide rule. Built their own heaven here, lightning and all, to find out what happens when you get hit by it. Didn't put in any archangels, but it wouldn't surprise me if they'd tried. What... what's that? Vibration test. What? Vi... Now, this is the test to... No, no, no, no! Now, major Pearl... uh, Mr. Honey. This is Mr. Scott. He'll be in charge of metallurgy. So you'll be working under him. How do you do? - I don't allow... - Quite an arrangement you've got there. - It's the tail group of the new rutland reindeer. - Yes, yes. - What are you doing to it? - I'm vibrating it. I mean, what are you after? What do you expect to happen to it? I expect the tail to fall off. Excuse me, please. Right, Mr. Scott. - This way. - Who in the world is he? That's Mr. Honey. Mr. Theodore Honey. He's a yank. Rhodes scholar, I think. But he's been here forever. What's all this about expecting the tail of the new reindeer to fall off? They're already in service. Old honey has some wild hair in his ear that vibration might cause metal fatigue someday... By breaking down the aluminum atom in light alloy structures. Couldn't vibrate anything little to find out. All boffins are a bit crackers, but I suppose he's the worst. Airscrews are down there, if you care to see them. Of course, they're as dead as the dodo bird. Same as the engines. We'll be all jet in no time. Good night, Mr. Honey. Oh. There you are. Hurry up there, please. Hurry. Four only. Mr. Honey. Can I give you a lift? Why, I seem to be going your way. Oh. Oh, no. No, thank you. I wouldn't want to take you out of your way. - Where do you live? - In Farnham. It's quite a way. I go right through there. I-I'll get a bus at the next stop. I wouldn't want to trouble you. It's no trouble at all. Come on. Jump in. - Why don't you throw those in the back? - Uh, thank you. I was quite interested in that experiment of yours, with the reindeer tail group. Would you like to tell me just what your idea is? It's rather difficult to explain a thing like that in words of one syllable. Well, I have managed as much as two syllables on occasion, Mr. Honey. Well, to put it as simply as I can. The purpose of my work has been to arrive at an end result... For the original theoretical hypotheses... Of Kerslinger of Bale and Schilgarde of Uppsala. In which they postulate vibration as a source of energy. I reasoned that since this energy does not appear in any of the ordinary forms... Such as heat or electrical potential, it must be absorbed by the metal itself... And that sufficient absorption would result in nuclear fission of the aluminum atom... In an isotopic form with crystalline affinities. I see. - And that means the tail will fall off. - Exactly. Oh, h-here's where I live. Thank you very much. You wouldn't... Would you care to come in? Thank you. I'd like to. Oh, I'm afraid all I can offer you is some Sherry. That'd be very nice. Probably not very good. I've had it quite a while. Perhaps it's time we tested it to see if it's suffering from fatigue. Oh, that wouldn't happen to Sherry. Well... Uh... Oh, I'm so sorry. It's the one next door. It's very easy to do, you know. You're new to Farnham, Mr. Honey. We've lived here 11 years. I have it all planned... What to have for dinner. Don't you bother with... - Hello. - You don't remember where we put that Sherry, dear? The top cupboard, behind the dishes. - You said it would be out of Mrs. Higgins's way. - Really? I didn't notice any... Up on the top. Oh! Oh, yeah. Oh, never mind. I'll get that later. I knew it must be somewhere. I never really forget anything. Dear, would you get some glasses, please? Come in, won't you? We haven't had to look for it for quite some time. The last guest we had was Dr. Gillingsworth... From the Bacteriological Institute, just before Christmas. - I'm afraid I'm giving you a good deal of trouble. - Oh, no. Not at all. Won't you sit down? Elspeth? There we are. Okay. Say when. I guess Mrs. Higgins did find it. I'll get some more. - I wish you wouldn't bother. - Oh, no. It's no trouble. It's around the corner. It needs some... Elspeth, will you entertain Mr... - I don't believe you told me your name. - Scott. Scott, this is my daughter, Elspeth. I'll be right back. Uh... it's, uh... yeah. Won't you sit down, Mr. Scott? Uh, just where would you suggest? Oh, I'm so sorry. It's my father's work. You have to be very careful. It might be something very important. - There. - Thank you. I seems as though your father does quite a good deal of work. Yes, it's very hard being a scientist. One has to think a great deal. The world would have made scarcely any progress at all if it hadn't been for scientists. I see. The scientists do the thinking for the world. And the rest of us just live in it, is that it? Yes. When my father's thinking, I keep very quiet. What about your mother? Does she help you keep quiet? My mother is dead, Mr. Scott. A V2 in the war. I'm very sorry indeed, Elspeth. You must miss her very much. Yes, I do. My father does more, I think. I try to do things for him the way she did, but I'm not very good at it yet. You see, I'm still a little young. I'd like to show you the house, if you would like to see it. That would be very nice. This is the living room, of course. - Would you like to see my room? - Yes, I would. Very much. This way, please. And this is where you sit quietly while he does his thinking. Yes. - What do you do? - Well, sometimes I think. And then I'm training Theodore. That's Theodore. It's a kind of experiment to determine his capacity for the association of ideas. I tie his food on the string to see how long it will take him... To learn to ring the bell when he's hungry. It's a very little bell. So it isn't noisy. It doesn't matter very much whether he learns to or not... Because he's really quite a nice little fish. Yes. Well, what else do you like to do? Don't you ever play games? Oh, yes. We nearly always do after dinner. We have a schedule for it. Sch... oh, yeah. What sort of games do you play? - Oh, like about what things are pentamerous. - Penta... Oh, how do you play that? You take turns in finding things that have five of everything... Until one of you can't find any more. Then he loses. It's part of the science of numerics. Oh, what other games do you play? Oh, well, there's pyramidology. - Pyramid... - "ology." - Pyramidology. Oh. - That's the science of the great pyramid. My father made it up too... the game, I mean. Here it is. Excuse me. It was built in the year 3234 B.C. And it's very scientific. It was built in direct relationship to the stars, so it has an astronomical significance. It's the only known architectural example of squaring the circle. That is, the area of the base is exactly equal to that of a circle, with the height of the structure as its radius. It has the most wonderful maths in it. - I'm sure it must be great fun. - It is. I have the most fun... Elspeth, what have you done with Mr. Scott there? We're just coming, father. We'd better go now. He may be looking for something like the corkscrew. And he really isn't very good at finding things. - Oh, here. I'll get that out of your way. - Oh, no, don't... I'm afraid it's become a little cluttered in here. Oh, why didn't I see that? I think I'd better leave this. This is some correspondence I've been having with Tanggye, a Tibetan. And the Abbe Delville in Louvain. It's on the theory of numbers. In 1742, Goldbach postulated... That every positive, even integer is a sum of two primes. It's been verified to 10.000, but never proved. We're trying to prove it. Yes, I'd want to know where to find that. By all means. It sounds interesting. But isn't it a little pointless? Quite. That's the beauty of it. Here's something very interesting. This is Rutherford. Yes, I wanted to finish this. Yes. He identifies the ten lost tribes with the Scythians. - Quite conclusively too. - Nice to read aloud to Elspeth. Oh, yes, I do. Yes. Light alloy structures and hysteresis. You know where that goes, dear. And this one. Oh. Oh, I... Yeah. One of the more difficult of the sciences, I should imagine. Hmm? What's that? Oh. Oh, yes, yes. You know, I didn't find that very satisfactory. They seem to have such different problems with their children than I've ever had with Elspeth. - You haven't found parenthood very difficult then? - Not at all, really. Of course, I've been very systematic about it. I laid out a schedule. So much work, so much sleep, so much play. - Pyramidology. - Pyramid... yes, yes. What's been your experience in holidays? I mean, do you send her away where she can be with other children? Do you have any children, Mr. Scott? No, but I hope to. But I'd value your opinion. I used to send her away with other children, but I don't do that anymore. She never seemed to like it very much anyway. I think perhaps that was because the other children's minds... Weren't well enough organized to interest her. She's really much happier here. She's quite good at being by herself. Her... her mind... Is really developing quite remarkably, Mr. Scott. I think she'll be a very fine woman. Yes. I'm sure she will be. Well, I'd be... better be getting along. I'll look in at your office in a few days' time. I'd like to hear more about that experiment of yours... about the tail falling off. - What did you want to know about it? - Just a little more detail. - When you expect failure to occur... - I probably have that here. I think that it's here someplace. I think... here it is. Yes. 2.76 times "K" over "L." That's the time factor. It's in B.T.I. Units, of course. That's, let's see... That's... 1.440. - 1.440 what? - Hours. You don't mean you expect the reindeer tail to fall off in 1.400 hours? No, no. 1.440. But, Mr. Honey. A lot of aircraft have flown many millions of Miles... Without the tails coming off any of them because of vibration... Mr. Scott. You asked me for the evaluation in time of my "U" subscript "M" symbol. The mathematical answer is 1.440 hours to failure... For the specific tail plane under test on which my calculations are based. Now, how long has your test been running? 832 hours, 14 minutes and seven seconds, as of shutdown tonight. They don't allow me to run it more than eight hours a day. The people in the neighborhood complain about the racket at night. Yes, but you know, of course, that an aircraft in commercial service... Is likely to pile up flying hours faster than your experiment. - That's probably quite true. - Then why didn't you insist on a 24-hour basis? I did insist on it originally, but they decided to do it for eight hours. Yes. But you hadn't given them your 1.440 hour figure. Well, I never include detail on my preliminary report. Science is in no hurry, Mr. Scott. I'm working on a principle, which, if I'm correct, will be true for all time. But whether I reach it a day or so later or earlier is not important. But it might be important for the 50 or so people who take off in these reindeers every day. You don't understand. I'm a scientist. And science is very exacting. It requires the utmost concentration. I can't be concerned about people. I... why, if a doctor is trying to find out a cure for a disease. What would happen if he let himself be upset about everybody that got sick and died? He'd never get any work done at all. People must be someone else's concern. - I can't let it be mine, Mr. Scott. - But... You can find my preliminary report in the files. And I... I don't wish to add anything more to it at the present time. If you'll excuse me, I think... I think I'd better be getting home. Father. Oh. It's very easy to do, you know. - Well, good-bye, Elspeth. - Good-bye, Mr. Scott. Good-bye, Mr. Honey. Excuse me, please, gentlemen. Rub her down, Ned. Don't give her any water till she stops sweating. Scotty! No! - What are you doing here? - Ah, Bill, hello. I've been watching that plane. I guessed it was you. How are you? What are you doing here? Have you come here for a job? No, I got one. You have? That calls for a drink. Well, it's a little early. Rosie? Customers. What are you gonna fly, Scotty? - No more flying. Matrimony set in. - Grounded, eh? How'd it happen? Or perhaps you'd sooner not talk about it. - You wait till you see her. - Really? I'm glad to see you can take it so well. Rosie. Scotty, meet Rosie. She's a spy. Wait till you see her bedroom. It's absolutely papered in blueprints, isn't it? - Oh, Mr. Penworthy. - "Oh, Mr. Penworthy." - Two large scotches, please. - Yes, sir. - What is your job, Scotty? - Head of metallurgy. Don't tell me you're polishing your pants. Don't tell me you're one of those crawling little desk blokes. Always was, Pen. Went back to it when I got out. - This is vodka. - Oh, Mr. Penworthy! Well, off we go. Off we go. Don't you like desk blokes, bill? Listen, Scotty. Pilots and desks, dogs and cats... natural enemies. They've got one theme song... you can laugh. "Pilot's error." Anything goes wrong with their calculations and there's a smashup, pilot's error. - Rosie. You remember Harry Ward? - Yes, I do. Look what they did to him. He was piloting that reindeer when it flew into the hill at Labrador a couple months ago. All in little pieces. Nothing to go on. Pilot dead, so... pilot's error. You don't think it was pilot's error. With Harry Ward, Scotty? You can't be serious. They said he was dropping off altitude in an overcast. He wouldn't do a crazy thing like that if he tried. Rosie! If you can tear yourself away from the salt mines... We would like a couple of "wodkas." Oh, Mr. Penworthy! Seven to 10 degrees angle of descent, motors full on when he hit the hill. Obviously he was in control. Dropping off altitude in the overcast. Pilot's error. He didn't reckon on that hill. Do you know how many hours it had flown, with tests? How many hours it had flown, with tests. Yes, I can tell you that. Certainly. Just one minute. They flew a lot of tests, simulated flights in weather. Uh, total number of flying hours before estimated time of crash: 1.407. - 1.407? - That's right. Have you any photographs of the wreckage? How many would you like to see? We cover everything here, Mr. Scott. We leave nothing out, I assure you. Reindeer crash. Photographs of wreckage. - Any particular part of the wreck? - Yes, the tail plane. I want to see a photograph of the tail plane. Yes, I remember now. They didn't find the tail plane. Nothing unusual in that, I assure you. The plane turned over as it hit the hill, caught fire. Wreckage spread all over the place. Thick undergrowth. You can't see 10 feet. - The investigation... - Thanks very much. I'm much obliged. All right. We send someone to Labrador. Comb through that godforsaken country for a section of the tail spar... And take a fine hiding from the taxpayers when we find there's nothing to it. All the ruddy decisions to make and never one you can be sure about. One thing you do know: A boffin has to be a bit balmy to be a boffin. The line between genius and being just plain crackers is so thin, you never know which side you're on, nor when they've crossed it either. Tchaikovsky, I'm told, one day began to eat raw goldfish. And Molière discovered suddenly that he was better off standing on his head. Oh, we've had it here too. A fine time all the papers had when one of our boffins started pinching girls in the park. And now our Mr. Honey informs us that reindeers will fall apart after 1.400 hours... And holds the time figure out on us. If I did things like that, they'd lock me up. How long before this infernal machine of his is due to prove something, one way or the other? - Weeks yet, sir. - Get it on a 24-hour basis today. Better get someone to handle the complaints when they start coming in too. - Very good, sir. - How many hours have the other reindeers in flight done? Not nearly as many, sir. The one in Labrador was the prototype. It did all the tests. That's why it's got so many hours. The others were delivered in a group to the airlines just before they went into service. They can't have done more than 500. That's the best news I've had today. I don't want the job of asking the airline to ground their nice, new fleet... With no more to go on than what Mr. Honey says. Well, that's it. Oh, wait a minute. You know who we're sending to Labrador, don't you? That's right. Mr. Theodore Honey. He's the one who started all this. Maybe a good, hard climb will do him good. Still, he knows what he's looking for better than anyone. Get him started soon as you can. I'll give him the good news right away, sir. Passengers for flight 26 for Gander and Montreal: Will you please have your embarkation slips ready... And proceed to the exit door for boarding the aircraft? - That it? - Yes. You'll have to go through that door. Every stitch he has in the world is in that bag. You can't say he squanders what he makes on himself. Well... have a good trip, Mr. Honey. - Don't worry. We'll look after Elspeth. - That's very kind of you. - They'll look after you, dear. - Yes, I know. - Have you got your sandwich? - Oh, yes. Yes, yes, I have. Tomato, cheese, and there was some nice fish. - Good-bye, daddy. - Good-bye, dear. I'm afraid I didn't bring a handkerchief. I'm sorry. We were in such a hurry packing. - Mr. and Mrs. Brook Holter? - That's right. Thank you. Come along. - Your name, please, sir? - Uh, Honey. Theodore Honey. And your embarkation slip, please? Miss, uh, Teasdale. Oh, yes. Miss Teasdale. Uh, uh... - Thank you, sir. - Oh. Thank you. Fasten your safety belts. No smoking, sir, until we take off. - No smoking. - I'm so sorry. Fasten your safety belts. Would you like to take your coat off, sir? You'll be more comfortable. That's right. We haven't many passengers on this trip, so you can use this seat for your things. - Oh, thank you. - Fasten your safety belt, please. - Pardon? - I'll just help you do it. - That's it. - Don't want you to fall out. - All right now? - Yes, thank you. You're very kind. I'll be back after we take off to help you get out of that. Thank you. May I have your... may I have your attention, please? You may unfasten your seat belts now and smoke, if you like. My name is Marjorie Corder. This is Peggy Miller. We're here to do anything we can to make your trip pleasant and comfortable. We'll be glad to give you refreshments and drinks quite free of charge... And although we both might regret it personally, no tipping is permitted. Thank you, and we're glad to have you aboard. - Here you are, miss Teasdale. - Thank you. - Anything we can do for you? - No. Thank you very much. Don't you want to get rid of that now? Might as well make yourself comfortable. Here's the button to adjust your seat. Here's the switch for your reading light, when you want it. We'll serve dinner soon, but maybe you'd like some sandwiches and coffee? - Well, I... I... - We have milk too, if you'd rather. I think a little coffee would be nice. I brought some sandwiches. - My daughter made them. Her name's Elspeth. - Oh. Well, now, they're probably much better than ours then. - You sure you didn't bring your own coffee? - No. I'll get you some. Uh, miss... Miss, weren't you... Isn't that Monica Teasdale? - That-that one you were just talking to? - Yes, it is. She's crossed with us often. A great many of the film stars do. - Oh? - Are you a fan of hers? I didn't mean... I never go to films, really, not since... I... I haven't gone in years. Would you like me to take over your autograph book? Oh, no, no. I don't even have one. I wouldn't want to trouble her. Oh, all right. I'll be back with your coffee. - Oop! - Oh, excuse me. Didn't mean to wish the baby on you, but I've got one making his first trip. Sometimes they're worse. Brought his own sandwiches. Hey, the skipper can't find his cloud glasses. He thinks he may have dropped them in here. Have a look around for them. - He's quite a bit worried. Almost ran into a big one. - Oh, no, you don't. No new-girl jokes here. She's doing fine. If you've come for coffee, help yourself. We give pilots service. Co-pilots, no. Oh, so you're on her side. - Which one's the boffin? - The boffin? Scientific bloke from Farnborough. Radio said he was aboard. Sam thinks he ought to look around. Courtesy of the trade and all that. - What's his name? - Theodore Honey, believe it or not. Don't tell me where he is. Two-to-one, I can find him. I'll take the uncombed bloke halfway down the starboard side. Looks as though he didn't have a mother. - Mr. Honey, in 21. - Twen... See? Can't miss. From Farnborough. I've been a bright Lassie. I've been talking to him as though he'd never seen a plane before. I'll question the master intelligence. I suppose he speaks our language. - Let him have his coffee first. - All right. I'll come down for him when we've hit the step. We'll only give him the sixpenny tour. He may ask a few questions we can't answer. Here you are, Mr. Honey. No idea you were an expert on aviation. I deserve a prize for talking to you as though you've never flown before. Well, I never have flown before. What I know about airplanes is more when they're in pieces. Well, you seem to be quite famous. Captain Samuelson sent down word he'd like to show you over the plane... flight deck and all. - They don't do that for everyone. - You're all being very nice... I think you'd be interested. These new reindeers are beautifully equipped. - Radar and everything. - Is this a reindeer we're in? That's right. A nice, new, shiny one. I think I'd like to see it very much. The copilot will be down for you, but don't hurry. Enjoy Elspeth's sandwiches. Over here, pressure analyzer for the cabin. - Now, will you come this way, Mr. Honey? - Thank you, captain. You're welcome. Will you step down, please? The engine instruments are here. Hank can tell if a cylinder misfires just once, and which one it is. I think he can take a reading on whether his girlfriend's out with someone else or not. Now, then. Mind the hatch, sir. Find it, Mac? Yup. Fuses keep blowing on the undercarriage safety circuit. Here we have the radar screen, sir. Radio altimeter, radio compass, D.F. Loop. Excuse me, sir. The R.C. Repeater, which is duplicated on the pilot's panel, just in case. Ah, yes. Well, I don't suppose many things go wrong these days. Almost never. Won't even use reconditioned engines in this line. We get new ones every 600 hours. Mmm. They're pretty things. They're really obsolete though, aren't they? They're good enough for me. Not a cylinder's missed a take yet, and this is the third set. Have me out of a job if they don't kick up a little something soon. Well, I wouldn't think that that would hap... - Did you say "the third set"? - That's right. But I thought the reindeers were new on this run. They are, on this run, but this was one of the first two built. The builders wanted experience with the ship before turning the fleet over to this line. - We were loaned out a while on the South American run. - Well, for how long? Quite a while. Tell me exactly how many hours this airplane has flown. Certainly. It's right here. Now, 1,422 up to takeoff. - Anything else, sir? - But... No, I... - We have dual A.D.F. Indicators... - That's enough. Well, did you learn all about airplanes? Mr. Dobson. I must speak to the captain at once. Captain Samuelson's very busy, Mr. honey. If there's something I can do... Please tell the captain I have every reason to believe this airplane's in serious danger. - I insist on speaking to him, please. - I'll see what I can do. What's all this about? I understand you're not very happy about something. Captain, this airplane and everybody in it's in very serious danger. And you must turn back at once. - Um, what sort of danger? - I've been working on a theory on nuclear fission. I used the tail plane of a reindeer as a basis. According to my calculations, it'll fail in 1.440 hours. - I see. But this is a theory. - I've done a great deal of work on this. This airplane has flown 1.422 hours as of takeoff. The tail plane can fail at any moment. I don't believe you realize the very strict procedures under which an airline operates. - Have you ever heard of an airworthiness certificate? - But this is something entirely new. - This is... nobody knows anything about this. - Why don't they know? It would seem very strange if Farnborough wouldn't let us in on a problem like that. Have they definitely accepted your theory? Well, there is no proof, no. Not the way you mean it. That's the reason I'm on my way to Labrador right now, to investigate that crash. - Labrador? - That airplane crashed at 1.407 hours... Within hours of my calculations. - Less time than this airplane has flown. - You know the tail group failed? The tail group wasn't found with the wreckage. - Every minute that we spend... - But the truth of the matter is... That apart from the coincidence of the crash, all of this is just your opinion. Look. Would you feel happier if we went down together and had a look at the tail spar? It won't do any good. It'll happen very suddenly. One moment the tail plane spar will be perfectly normal, and the next moment the whole character of the metal will change. And the tail will break off, captain, quite suddenly, and you'll go into a dive from which you can't recover. Your only chance, captain, is to turn back immediately. You can cut your inboard engines to break up the vibration frequency, land at the first available airport. If you don't do it, captain, this airplane's gonna crash into the sea. We're all going to be killed. I see. Tell you what I'll do. I'll radio back a full report of all you've told me. And if London tells me to turn back, I will. Meanwhile, I'll cut the inboard motors, as you suggest. It'll make us late at Gander. But I'll take that responsibility. But I warn you, there won't be anyone at the airport to make a decision like that. At this time of day, they'll find it very difficult to find anyone who can. Very well, captain. Let's wish ourselves luck. Well, I've heard a good many strange things in my life, but that's way ahead by a mile. Well, you better put it on the horn to London, Peter. I wouldn't miss unloading a report like that on the boys for half my pension. Right. Well, it'll give them something to think about anyway. Here it goes. London radio from flight 26. - London radio from flight 26. - Okay, Sam? - Yeah. - London radio from flight 26. Over. Hey, Marjorie. I've got news for you. Your boffin's crackers. What's the matter? Did he ask you some questions you couldn't answer? Clean off his rocker. He says the tail's gonna fall off. - He didn't. - He did, and with variations. Sam thinks you oughta keep an eye on him in case he gets violent. He didn't seem to be like that. He thinks we ought to stop it vibrating. Ruddy little squirt. I'd like to vibrate him. Sam says ring through if you need help. - May I look in here for just a moment? - Go ahead. - Is there anything I can do to help? - No. Thank you very much. What... what... what's all that about? Liked the tour they gave him, I suppose, so he's having one of his own. Coffee, Sam? No. No, thanks. Not just now. I, um, want to get some cigarettes from my bag. Miss Teasdale? Miss Teasdale? Huh? You don't know me, but Honey's my name. Theodore Honey. I just couldn't help... I'd like to talk to you. Of course. I'd be very pleased. I've always... Mrs. honey and I, we've always... I've always felt I owed you a great deal. Your pictures meant a lot to my wife and I... That's why I want to talk to you. You're very kind. It's, uh... may I? Certainly. It... it's about the condition of this airplane. I'm afraid we're in very serious danger. I... I'm rather afraid the tail may drop off at any moment. - Now, when that happens, there may be... - Is that so? Yes. When that happens, there may be a little time, so go to the men's room and sit on the floor. The partition is very rigid because the stove is bolted to the floor on the other side. Now, if you survive the first impact, try to get out of the escape hatch and get to a life raft. They may pick you up when they search for us in the morning. That's certainly very interesting. Go to the men's room. Yes. Sit on the floor. Oh, no. - According to these calculations... - Look, Mr. Honey. I'm afraid miss Teasdale's very tired. We really ought to let her rest for a while. Yes, I'm a little tired. But thank you very much, Mr. Honey. Please, Mr. Honey. I'm sorry. I was only trying to help. I'm sure you were. Some other time perhaps. - You shouldn't have done that, Mr. Honey. - It's quite clear I shouldn't. I'm sure you don't want to alarm people. You might even cause a panic. You won't do it again, will you? No, no. I won't do it again. I know you're very worried. Isn't there anything I can do? - You know all about this, don't you? - Yes. The pilot had to tell me. You've been very kind to me. I'm sorry I made trouble. Oh, no, Mr. Honey. You really didn't make any trouble. It's only that... I think I'd like to tell you what I was trying to tell miss Teasdale. Well, do, if it'll make you feel any better. Well, I think I know more about this than either you or the captain. I think I know what's going to happen. If it does, at this altitude, there'll be less than three minutes before we hit the water. Now, there's one place in this airplane... Where a person would have a chance to survive that impact. Come with me. Now, at the first sign of trouble, go in here... And sit on the floor with your back against the partition. See, this parti... Here, I'll show you. This partition is very rigid, because the stove here is bolted to the floor. I've tried to tell miss Teasdale that, because I felt that I owed her something. But now I want you to know. I won't talk to anybody else. It's good of you to have told me all this, Mr. Honey. No one's worried about me like that for quite a while. Yes, but you will remember what I told you when it happens. I'll certainly remember. I can't promise to do it. I'm one of the crew, and there are quite a few things to do if anything happened. But thank you just the same. Do it if you can, though. I think we're going to be all right, Mr. Honey. No. But in any event, there's nothing we can do about it. It's kind of you to worry about me, but please don't. Why don't you try and get some rest instead? Yes, I'll try. I think that crisis is over now, miss Teasdale. I don't think it'll happen again. What's the matter with that little man? I think he was just trying to do something for you. I'm afraid he's got some odd ideas. He certainly has. He told me to sit on the floor in the men's room. If that isn't an odd idea, I'd like to meet one. I think he was trying to tell you the best place to be if there was an accident. Is that what I ought to do? I think he's right about it being the safest place. But if he's right about that, he may be right about the tail falling off. - Who is he? Just one of the passengers. - Some kind of scientist, I think. - You know, they don't often track. - Oh. The altitude, miss Teasdale, sometimes causes a nervous state in certain passengers. I'm sure that it had that effect on Mr. Honey for a while. But he's quiet now. That's more than I am. There's about to be another passenger on this plane in a nervous state. I assure you, there's nothing to be alarmed about. Captain Samuelson's... Listen, dear. The scientist says this plane is going to crash. The captain says it isn't. Your vote doesn't count, because you have to string along with the captain. That leaves it a tie. What's that? He seems to be saving fuel. I imagine... he wouldn't do that without a reason. I thought you said he didn't believe it. All I meant... Just a minute. If I am going to meet my maker, I would like to know about it. I'll tell you what you can do. You can get a cup of coffee. Bring it to me over there. No, miss Teasdale, I've just got him quiet, please. Right now, I don't want him quiet. There are lots of things I want him to talk about. I wouldn't... Now just go and get the coffee. Mr. honey, I was only half awake. And I only half heard what you were trying to tell me. May I sit down for a minute? Yes, certainly. Thank you. - Would you like a cigarette? - No, thank you. Now, she tells me you're a scientist. You care for a Lozenge? Lozenge? No, thank you. Right. Will do. Listening out. Airport said they can't make any decision about turning back. And they've never heard of any trouble with the tail. They'll try and contact someone at a higher level at the airline or ministry. But it may take some time. Till then they want you to use your own judgment. They also want us to keep an eye out for a small boat. Some crackpot trying to sail the Atlantic single-handed. Fine. He may be in trouble. Mm-hmm. Well, if we see him, we'll stop and ask him what we ought to do about it. All right, now, I estimate it would require a speed of 420 Miles an hour... To bring the forces into equilibrium. This could be attained by a downward flight path of seven degrees below the horizontal. That angle would keep us from plunging straight in. Although, at that speed, the impact would be rather severe. See? I see. I don't see at all, of course. But I do understand that when you think something out, you don't stop halfway, do you? But the pilot... he should understand you. Why doesn't he turn back? Well, it was rather difficult for the pilot. You see, I imagine that all this may sound a little improbable if you haven't studied it. Would it help if I would talk to him? No. No, I don't think so. I think we're quite near to the point of no return anyway. The point of no return? That's where it's as short to go on as it is to turn back. Oh. I thought you meant something else. Miss Teasdale, would you like your coffee in your own seat? No, put it over here. Oh, as a matter of fact, let's go back there... Where we won't wake anybody no matter how much we talk. Where I can say my prayers if I feel like it. All right? Yes, miss Teasdale. Good. We can all stop worrying who's going to sit where. Come on, Mr. Honey. That's it. Halfway, just. Okay. Oh, Peter. Yes, sir? If they call you again, tell them to tell the high-ups... They needn't bother making a decision about turning back. All right, sir. Next stop, Gander. Right. I had a canary once, didn't have any tail. It flew all right. Funny. I would have thought I'd feel quite differently being right up against it like this. My mind is going twice as fast, as though it were trying to catch up with all the thinking it didn't get around to. All those people there... Makes you wonder... Which one you would pick out to save if you were God... And which one wouldn't matter much. - What are you thinking? - Oh, I don't know. I never thought much about things like that. No. You didn't have much time. You were so busy with your multiplication table. But you had a chance to play God for a little while. Why did you pick me out when you decided to save someone? Oh, but you ought to live. I mean, the work you do, you should keep on doing it. Oh, the work. No, I don't think I'll buy that. A few cans of celluloid in a junk heap someday. Has been fun. But that's about all. No, the work you do... If you could have finished that, all these people and lots more wouldn't be in the spot they're in right now. That's the kind of work that should be finished. No. I think I'd pick you. Well, that's very nice of you to say that, miss Teasdale, but I think it'll be all right about the work. The work will get done. I think it'll be all right about me. Haven't you any family? Yes, I have Elspeth. That's my little girl. - Oh, you have a little girl? - Yeah. That's worth a lot to come back to. Oh, yes. Well, I didn't mean that I wouldn't like to. We're really very fond of one another. What I... what I mea... I-I... - I've been thinking about that. And I... - She's 12 now. Her character's formed, I think. Mary did that mostly. She... That's my wife. I-I wish it didn't have to be like that, but I... She's developed to such a point, I-I... I think she's gonna be all right. Of course, I-I've been able to help in a lot of things. She's much more soundly developed than most children her age. Really has a remarkable grasp of crystallography. Well, that's very good, of course. What is it? It's quite fundamental. It's always been odd to me that schools don't teach it. No I-I've really had to help her in almost everything she knows worth knowing. Has she got a compact? A-a what? A compact. Oh, a compact. I don't know. Why? Never mind. - That isn't it? - Mm-mmm. No. Some more minutes, and each one is like kind of a present, isn't it? 00:49:00,934 --> 00:49:02,500 You know what I was thinking about just then? All the people who'll come to my funeral. That'll be quite an occasion. - Do you have a family, miss Teasdale? - No. Not even a husband at the moment. But there's my agent. Oh, he'll be so sad. He had five more years to go at 10%. And then there's Loreen Colvin. Oh, she'll cry the most. She'll give a beautiful performance, and then she'll try to get the part in the picture I was going to make. I suppose that's why I don't feel the way I thought I would. I would have stopped working quite a while ago... If I could have figured out what to do with myself. I was married three times, but it never came to anything. I wouldn't be surprised if it was all my fault. Maybe Providence is trying to tell me something. Maybe it took a first-class high dive into the middle of the Atlantic to make me quit. But maybe I'd rather it ended with a big splash. No, no. You've made people happy you don't even know about. Like my wife, Mary. She took me to see one of your pictures that last night before the bomb came. She talked about it a lot when we got home. You made that last night very happy for her. That's worth doing, miss Teasdale. You know, when we used to go to pictures, we used to walk right out on 'em when Mary didn't like them. We never walked out on one of your pictures. Mr. Honey, this is not exactly... The best compliment I've ever had. Maybe it's the nicest. That's why I had to tell you what I did. I have to do everything I can for you. You mean it too, don't you? You scientists are always so busy figuring out new things. Why don't you figure out a mascara that won't run? Oh, well, I'm afraid that's a little out of my field. Oh, I'll be as good as new in a minute. Thanks, for holding my hand. I wouldn't mind seeing something. I don't care very much what. Newfoundland ought to be around here somewhere, if I haven't added wrong. - How late are we? - An hour and 28 minutes. Well, it's about time I got them on their feet, isn't it? Leave 'em alone. This stuff's got gander airfield closed in. We may have to sit up here till it breaks. Oh, fine. - Want some coffee? - No. We'll start the inboard motors to land. - Hank, go and feather two and three. - Yes, sir. - How long? - Oh, about half an hour. I'll get them cracking back there. Oh, I'll take that coffee now. Thanks. Right. Take it, Sam. Call Gander tower. Tell them I want the runway cleared. Tell them I'm coming straight in on a direct approach. Okay. They're asking for an emergency landing. What's up? I don't know. He said it was a long story. Better phone A.O.A. Flight 52 and tell them to keep circling. I'll look after things down here. Good. Hello. Miss Teasdale? Miss Teasdale. We land in 20 minutes. - Would you like some coffee? - Twenty minutes? We're that close? - We're still all in one piece. - Yes, it's a lovely, clear night. So it is. The stars are out. I'll go back to my seat. - Would you like some coffee, Mr. Honey? - No, thank you. You did have rather a lot, didn't you? I'm sorry you had to be so worried, but I think we're quite all right now. We're all very lucky. You'll go back to your seat and fasten your safety belt for the landing, won't you? Yes. Gear down. Gear down, sir. Watch the undercarriage switch, sir. Safety locks are out. Full flaps. Full flaps, sir. Reverse pitch. Looks all right to me. I don't know what he was in such a hurry about. Right, sir. Quite a night, Mr. Honey. I guess you must have multiplied someplace where you should have divided. Miss Teasdale. How long do we stay here? - About an hour, I think, sir. - Thank you. - Yes, we can. Right there. - Thank you. Mr. Honey, will you come with me, please? Will you come too, miss Corder? Well, what was the trouble? Any news for me from London? No, not a thing. No, that'd make it too easy. - Where's the A.R.B. Inspector? - Well, he's probably asleep. Get him up. I want that aircraft inspected as no aircraft's been inspected in history. Every ruddy inch of her. Down to the last rivet. Dobson, break it to the passengers there's going to be a delay. Aye, aye, sir. Miss Corder? Sir? If, as I expect, this inspection is satisfactory and we take off, I'm taking responsibility for refusing to carry Mr. Honey on the flight, as I consider his presence an unnecessary hazard. I'll arrange that all other flights leaving this airfield... Are adequately informed about him before they carry him. It's your responsibility to see he doesn't get in touch with any of the passengers. I don't want them alarmed by what, in my opinion, are groundless, unnecessary fears. Got that? Yes, sir. Right. Let's go. Well, I feel rather like a policewoman. Don't like it very much. Well, I don't want to make any more trouble for you, miss Corder. Where do you want me to go? I know an office. Come on. Let's try and make it the nicest arrest that's ever happened. Are we going to leave on time? We're late already, you know. There'll be a short delay. The captain wants an inspection, that's all. It won't take long. Mr. Honey... They say it'll be two hours. It means it'll be three hours. Just once... I'd like to tell somebody what this is going to cost me. Some coffee, please. The one I liked best was the one where you killed your husband. - I thought that was smashing. - Yes, I liked that too. Well, that's nice and comfortable. I'll bring you something to eat, if you like. Bacon and eggs all right? Yes, that'd be very nice. I think it's better that you stay here, Mr. Honey. Some of the passengers get very upset about delays. They might find out it was you and say things they didn't really mean. - Well, I'll do anything you say, miss Corder. - Good. I'll be back in no time. Sorry. I brought your bag in from the plane. You really do travel light, don't you? Do you think the captain's going on? I suppose so. Unless they find something wrong. Now come on, while it's hot. But they won't find anything wrong. I told him that. I wish people didn't think they knew everything. You mean, you really believe it's going to crash whether they find anything or not? Yes, yes. I do believe that. Well, I've told him. He'll have to make his own decision now. Just one thing I'd like to get clear. How sure are you about this? You said it was going to happen last night, and it didn't. And you said you really didn't have any proof. Well, I-I'm quite sure. I've worked it out through three different channels, and the results all agree. Of course, I won't know until the evidence of my test. But I-I-I suppose if the captain goes ahead, that miss Teasdale will go too. I expect she will. I-I-I think she believed me for a little time last night. Then I... then I don't think she did. You know, it would be nice if you and Captain Samuelson could argue this out... And get together on whether it's going to fall apart or not. This is getting cold. That plane in labrador, that was proof in a way. I suppose there was a stewardess on that one too. Yes. Yes, I knew them both very well. Couldn't you believe me, miss Corder? You've been so very kind, and you... You ought to live and get married and bring up a family. You'd be very good at that. Well, thank you very much for that, Mr. Honey. You said that just about as nicely as anybody could. You know, I'd almost not go if it would help you stop worrying. But it's my job. And there's no way of making sure. And I don't think it's right to walk out on something like that. Do you know what I mean? I think everything will be all right if Captain Samuelson says so. He knows a great deal about aircraft. Now why don't you eat that up? It'll make you feel better. All right? Attention, please. Passengers, reindeer flight 26. Please be ready to board your plane in 20 minutes for the flight to Montreal. Flight 26, please be ready to board your plane in 20 minutes for Montreal. Well, I'd better be going. I won't lock you in, if you promise not to speak to any of the passengers. I won't. Well, good-bye, Mr. Honey. We'll see you in Montreal. And please, don't worry. No danger, of course. Once we're in the air. That's okay. Keep a man standing by the lever here on both taking off and landing, so nobody catches a coat on it or anything. Right. I'll see to that. - What are you doing here? - Captain, I-I just have to... Well, now that you're here, I want you to listen. I've told the inspector here all that you told me. Now, if you've anything to add, I want to hear it now, and I want him to hear it. No, sir. I-I don't... I don't have anything to add. As London doesn't take your opinion sufficiently seriously to order this aircraft grounded, I'm flying her on to Montreal. And I want you to get off and stay off. Captain, you mustn't take off in this airplane. You can't do it. Believe me, mathematics is a very exact science. You explained that already. Captain, it'll be just like the one in Labrador. - The stewardess, all these people... - You said that the last time. Leave that alone, you fool! Cut the prop! That swine. He wanted it wrecked. That inhuman swine! Cut that out! What'd you let him loose for? Better take him out of this before the passengers find out he did it. You'd better come with me, Mr. Honey. It just folded up. It just folded right up and sat down. Oh, there'll really be a delay for everybody now, won't there? I don't think there's any doubt about that. Tell me why... - He did do it, didn't he? - Yes, I'm afraid he did. If you believe in something, you believe in doing something about it, don't you? Well, they wouldn't listen to me and the lever was right there, so I just... pulled it. That's sticking your neck out pretty far, if you just thought it was going to crash. I tried to get them to ground the airplane. They wouldn't listen to me. The lever was just right there. So I just... You just pulled it. Don't those things cost an awful lot of money? A tremendous amount of money! Oh, this is going to cause a great deal of trouble, but... I should think it might. I-I don't know what they're going to do. I've never had any experience with anything like this before. I should think nobody has. I think this is a kind of a world's record. You didn't do that one for yourself either, did you? You could have been sitting right here on the ground when we took off. Looks to me like this was the men's room deal multiplied by quite a lot. Look, you keep him here. Some of the passengers won't be too pleased about all this. I'd like to find out what the payoff's going to be. Come to think of it. I think I ought to. Well, it's very nice of you not to be angry about the delay. Oh, it's worth it. You don't meet a world record every day. Well, I don't know whether to be glad or sorry I didn't lock the door. It never occurred to me you'd do anything like that. Well, it never occurred to me either! I suppose the airline will be very angry. That, I'm afraid, is probably quite an understatement. I can't imagine what the establishment will think. I suppose I'd better let them know what I've done. I imagine they'll hear about it. Uh-huh. Man kills airplane. There's apt to be quite a lot in the papers about that. Oh, dear. Well, Elspeth'll find out about it. I can't imagine what she'll think either. Look, Mr. Honey, we'll probably be sent back to London for reassignment... After they've sent another plane to pick up the passengers. Would it help if I went to see your little girl and told her you were all right? Would you do that for me? There's no telling what she'll hear, is there? Well, whatever she hears, I imagine she'll understand. Well, I wish I did. I would suggest that it is the solemn duty... For anyone who can find anything remotely humorous in all this... To share it with those of us who are less fortunate. Why, I couldn't help it, sir. Old Honey dropping a reindeer right on its belly. It's very funny. I see your point. But I can't precisely enjoy it at the moment. I don't remember another day like it. Half England's been on the telephone to me today. I think if one more person, friend or enemy, calls to ask if I've heard that our Mr. Honey has wrecked an aircraft at Gander... By pulling up the undercart, I'll... We'd better sort some kind of order out of all this. The chairman of the airline, sir David Moon, calling you, sir. I thought I said I'd take no more calls today. He said I was to take the telephone to you no matter where you were. All right. I'll take it. Hello. Yes, yes. Put him through. There are quite a few other calls, sir. You surprise me. Huh, the other half's getting in fast. The minister, the A.R.B., the treasury. Every newspaperman in the empire. Hello? Oh, hello. Hello, sir David. It's nice to hear from you. Oh, yes. That I very much heard. I have no way of knowing what he could have been thinking of. We'll get him back for the inquiry, and then perhaps when I've talked to him, I could... oh, I don't think you could mean that, sir David. No, no. I'm not at all prepared to assume he's a lunatic. At least, not yet. Yes, I quite realize that. But I don't think there's anything to be gained by losing our tempers. I want... hello? Hello! Where are the papers? I thought you'd want to see them, sir John. I'm not so sure. Ah, here we are... "David and Goliath. Mr. Theodore Honey as David brings down the reindeer single-handed." There was one that called him the galahad of the airways. This is better. Sir David's idea, eloquently put, was there isn't enough money in the Bank of England... To pay for the damage done to themselves and British Aviation... By the implication of the safety of their aircraft. He did manage to sandwich in they wouldn't guarantee to bring him back, that he refused to allow any more of their passengers... To travel with an irresponsible madman who went about wrecking airplanes. Suggested the R.A.F. Might carry him. They were equipped to take risks. I can lay that on, sir, if he really means it. He means it. We'll have him back for the inquiry. - Miss Teasdale is here to see you, sir. - Teasdale? Who's miss Teasdale? Miss Monica Teasdale, the film star, sir. What's a film star doing here? Tell her I'm sorry. I can't... Hand her over to major Pearl. She said she wanted to see you about Mr. Honey. She crossed on the plane with him last night. But how can she be here? Ask her to wait two minutes. I'll see her. Well, gentlemen, there's one thing we can settle. You must send someone else off to Labrador. We mustn't show up at that inquiry without supporting evidence of some kind. But for heaven's sake, send someone who can keep his mind on what he's trying to do. No more boffins. It is my opinion, sir John, that even this trouble should not lead us... To saying that all scientists are foolish men and not to be trusted. From what department did the gentleman come who took a bath in the public fountain... And subsequently conceived the brilliant idea of pinching girls in the park? I ask you to remember, sir John, that the last time we decide not ever to mention this incident again. All right. All right. I think that's all for today, gentlemen, except for finding out what film stars have to do with all this. Johnson? Yes? - Ask miss Teasdale to come in. - Very good, sir. Mr. Scott, I'd like you to stay. Good day, gentlemen. Sir John, I assure you... Good night. - Miss Teasdale, sir John. - How do you do, sir John? - How kind of you to see me. - Not at all, miss Teasdale. Let me present Mr. Scott. How do you do? You're his boss, aren't you? I've heard a great deal about you. Sit down, please. Thank you. Did we hear correctly that you were on the plane last night with Mr. Honey? That's right. Well, I don't understand. How did you get back here? There was a plane coming through headed this way, and I got on it. But if you want to know why I'm here, that would take a lot longer to tell you. Did he ask you to give us any message? No. He doesn't know I'm here. If you can give us any idea of what really happened, we shall be very grateful indeed. They were going to take off, although he told them they shouldn't. The lever was right there. He just pulled it. You have never seen such a commotion in your life. I guess a thing like that has never happened before in the history of the world. Fortunately, no. Have you known Mr. Honey long? No. I just met him last night, right after we took off. He came to tell me that he thought we were in trouble. But why should he want to alarm you when there was nothing you could do about it? He thought there was something I could do. He gave me his reasons, and they were good enough for me. Did you believe him? What did he do? Explain his theory? He did. And I believed him. - Did you understand it? - Not a word. Then I don't understand. Oh, it isn't so hard, sir John. I don't know much about mathematics, but I know when a man knows what he's talking about. Have you a light? Oh, of course. May I smoke? Certainly. I don't understand a thing about his theory. But I've learned quite a lot about Mr. Honey, and I know he isn't crazy like they're saying out there. That funny little man is brave and kind and on the level. And he believed what he was telling me. But even I can see it's going to be awfully easy... To settle a lot of things by throwing him to the wolves, to say he's crazy and let it go at that. That's why I wanted to meet the people he worked for... To see if they're going to stand by him. Somebody's got to, you know. Miss Teasdale, I'd like to pay you a compliment. You believe in things too, and that's very nice to see. But I have to add this. I don't know whether Mr. Honey's right or wrong. Neither does Mr. Scott, any more than you do. There's no way of knowing. But that certainly doesn't mean we're going to back up Mr. Honey blindly. There's a matter called the truth which has to be served. It's a difficult thing, the truth, in a case like this. And the most I can promise you is we'll do our utmost to get at it. And we hope it's going to be on Mr. Honey's side. Well, the truth is a good deal, anyway. I don't think there was much need in my coming, but I'm glad I did. Thank you, sir John, for giving me your time. Good-bye. Thank you, miss Teasdale. Good-bye. I'll see you to your car. Thank you. He means the trouble is going to be pretty bad. I'm afraid so. Isn't there anything I could do for Mr. Honey? Where can I find his little girl? I could go there and tell her that he's all right. Oh, I think that would be very nice. I'll tell your driver where to go. Oh, please don't bother. They'll tell me at the gate. Oh, all right. Bye, Mr. Scott. And thank you. Good-bye, miss Teasdale. Mr. Honey! Mr. honey? Of course I know him. Where have you put him? He seems rather odd, sir John. I wasn't sure you wished to see him. Sir John, I want to protest very strongly. Why has my work been taken out of my hands? Supposing we go somewhere where we can chat. I'm not in the habit of going around wrecking things. You ought to know that. Hold on for a minute, Mr. Honey. Come this way with me. Mr. Scott, I must borrow you for a few minutes. A friend of yours has arrived. Hello, Mr. Honey. Yes. Come this way, Mr. Honey. So, as far as we're concerned, there's one decision to be made and one only. Whether we should allow the remaining reindeers to go on flying. If they're to be grounded, that must be done at half your estimate. We dare not cut safety finer than that. The inquiry has been deferred until the last possible moment for making that decision, which fortunately gives time enough for your test to reach the 1.440 mark, plus some margin of error. That's why it isn't yours anymore, or anyone else's. Too much depends on it. If your test is a success, the airline and everyone else will be very grateful to you. If it isn't, or we don't get supporting evidence of some kind from Labrador, then... and this is the difficult part, Mr. Honey, so I'll put it bluntly. Since none of them believe for a moment the test will succeed, they feel it imperative that they should be prepared... To issue as effective and as sweeping a statement as possible... To offset the almost ruinous publicity that reindeers have received. That yours was the act of an irresponsible, unbalanced mind, which they believe to be true. And they want the supporting opinion of qualified psychologists. In other words, they wish to test you as well as the tailpiece. To see if I'm insane? That's right. Do you think I'm insane? I don't think you are, Mr. Honey. Any more than I think you make a habit of going about wrecking things. But there's no way to know that. I'd hate to have them look me over at the moment. But just now, I haven't the right to take anything for granted. Please understand this. I couldn't refuse without making it look like a blind defense of my staff. But you can refuse if you like. That's your right. No, I won't refuse. Let them pry and poke if they want to. Tell them I'll be in my office if they want to see me. What about you, Mr. Scott? Do you think I'm ins... No, there'd be no way for you to know either, would there? Who is it? Who's that? Oh, Mr. Honey. Oh, I beg your pardon. Mr. Honey, it's me, Marjorie Corder. We didn't expect you back tonight. I stayed with Elspeth. Somebody had to. Well, that's very kind... you must be tired. Have you had anything to eat? I don't... you probably didn't. I'll get you something. We had lobster for supper. Do you like cold lobster? But I can manage. It keeps me in practice. Now, why don't you go upstairs and take a look at Elspeth? Well, did you notice anything? Well, she was asleep. Anything different. I meant, about the house. Well, you-you haven't got your clothes on. No, in the room. The curtains. Curtains? Why... well, where did this come from? Well, that was a present from miss Teasdale. Miss Teasdale? What? Is she here too? No, she went to London for the night. She got some lovely things for Elspeth's room too. Why don't you eat your supper? Well, what did she want to do a thing like that for? I think you'd be surprised. I imagine you were glad to see Farnborough again. Did you stop by the laboratory? Yes, yes. I looked in. Well, you don't seem exactly happy about that. Was there something wrong there? No, no. Yes, yes, there was something wrong. I-I can't expect to get any work done with people standing around peering at me. I-I'm now known as the galahad of the airways. Now, I-I-I heard someone saying, "imagine old honey collecting a poppy like Monica Teasdale." Well, I expect they were just trying to be friendly. I thought you were rather a galahad when you told miss Teasdale and me... What to do in case there was an accident. It's not such a bad thing to be. Here. Shall I do that for you? No, I can manage here. You know, it's my fault anyway. If you do anything wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself. Just what-what was it that you thought you did wrong? You did think there'd be a crash, didn't you? Yes, but what I should have done is offer my hypothesis to the captain in an orderly manner... And let him make his own decision, but I didn't do that. No, when they wouldn't listen to me, I kept thinking about you, lying dead up there in Labrador, like that other stewardess... And miss Teasdale, and all the rest of them. I wasn't orderly at all... not at all... and the lever was right there so I pulled it. And that seemed wrong to you? Of course it seemed wrong! How is anybody going to take my work seriously if I go around doing things like that? Do you know that they're saying I'm crazy now? And I don't blame them! You don't mean that if you had it all to do again, you'd just let it go ahead and crash? Well, that's just the point. I'd probably do the same thing over again. I'm evidently quite a weak character, miss Corder. The mistake I made was ever leaving Farnborough. If I just hadn't left there, and if this all dies down, I swear to you, I'm never going to leave my laboratory again. Well, I think I'm a little sorry about that. I know you have to be a scientist. I know you have important work to do. But you're a person too, Mr. Honey. Well, it's evidently quite difficult to be a person, miss Corder. Yes, I suppose it is, but... Oh, well, never mind. I expect you know what you're doing. I must clear this up. You'd better get some rest. You'll need it. Well, good night, miss Corder. Good night, Mr. Honey. Well, I better get my things out of your way. Things? What... my clothes and things. I'll move into Elspeth's room. Well, uh, why, you mean you've been staying in my... oh. Well, what's the matter? Well, I was just thinking of you, miss Corder. Don't you think people will talk? Oh, I see. Well, I'm a nurse, you know. You have to be to be a stewardess. Would it make it any better if I got hold of my nurse's uniform... And put it on for the neighbors to see? Well, I suppose that would be... Well, that's what I'll do then. I'd like to come back just to see how things turn out. Good night, Mr. honey. Yes. Well! Who's sick? No one. I... We had quite a problem last night. Mr. Honey arrived back in the small hours. He was so old-school about us both staying here. It was very sweet really. And this has to do with explaining the situation to the neighbors. I had to run over to Guildford this morning to get it. It looks as if I missed something by going up to London last night. Where is he? I suppose he couldn't wait to get down to Farnborough this morning... To see his playthings again. Well, that's exactly what happened. I'd like to hear about it. Some coffee left? Why don't you come in there? Why, what's the matter with... Oh, you've been busy. I had nothing else to do. It looks as though he wears one suit and goes to sleep in the other. I don't know how long it can be since he bought something for himself. I thought you were the one who thought a man shouldn't have things done for him. That goes for his character, but not necessarily his trousers. That's very domestic. You're full of surprises. Tell me something. I've been thinking about it. How would you go about getting him to make it under his own steam? That's what you were holding out for, as I remember it. I don't think that part of it is really any of my business. It's just that... I don't know. We talked a lot last night, and he seemed like a little boy who's had his first fight and got hurt. And so he says, "I'll never fight again." Well, he can't keep on running back to his laboratory. That's all right for the scientist, but not for him. He will get into trouble if he does that now. And I don't think he can make himself do it, really. I think he's better than that. You must have talked quite a bit. Funny that a kid like you would bother to see so much in anybody like him. It's not so funny, really. You get around, being a stewardess. That doesn't cover it. You've been married, or a lot in love sometime or other, haven't you? I don't think that has anything to do with it. What was it? Oh, you've heard it before. He was shot down over Arnheim. We'd been married a month. Sure, that says it. Maybe it says even more than you think it does. Well, this'll take some thinking about. And I'll have time for that. I'm leaving for California tonight. There was a flock of cables at the Dorchester when I got there. The studio wants to get going. This is a little sudden, isn't it? What about all the things you talked about? Helping him to find an answer and everything? I meant it. Don't think I didn't. And I still do. Maybe it would have been the best chance I'll ever have... To be a lot of things I'd like to be. Only I suppose you can't do a thing like that just a little bit... Mixing into other people's lives, I mean. You can start something maybe you can't finish. What got me was his being so anxious to save me for posterity. I've never had anything do my self-esteem so much good. So, I'd better go back and give posterity another break. It won't hurt to wait a while and see how things work out. That box in there is a dress for Elspeth. I saw it in a window, and it just yelled to belong to her. Tell her I'll write, will you? Aren't you going to wait and see them? No, I don't think so. I might weaken. Hello, miss Teasdale. Look who's here. Sugar plum. Hello, miss Corder. I hurried. I-I hoped you'd be back. Well, here I am. Don't you look pretty? Am I really all right? I've never seen an apple blossom look quite as sweet. Here's a present for you, honey. Oh, I really shouldn't have another one. May I look? Of course. Why don't you take it up to your room and look at it there? That'll be nicer. All right, I will. It's... it's like Christmas, only much more so. Well. Does that mean good-bye then? Sure. There's no use making anything of it. That's one thing you learn in my business... how to get off. I wish you wouldn't go. Maybe I'll be back. Never can tell. You're a nice kid, Marjorie. I have an idea you know what's going on. You might let me know. I'll get the price on a laboratory or two, just in case. Well, good luck. Keep on telling her she's pretty, will you? I will, Monica. Right. Honey, I... It sounds discouragingly healthy to me. What's your zero hour exactly? 2:00 this afternoon. Let me know the minute it even shivers. Well, it hasn't got much longer. The day of inquiry has just begun. Oh, I-I'm afraid I'd forgotten you were here. I'm sorry. I should have let you know. Well, I let elspeth stay down for a while. What happened? Nothing. Nothing happened at all. My figures clearly said the tail should fall off, and the tail didn't fall off. I-I-it's seven percent above my figure. I-it didn't fall off. Oh, I'm sorry. Well, what happens now? Well, I-I-I've been thinking about that on the way home. I'll go to the inquiry, and I'll stand up, and I'll explain my figures to a group of very angry men, and then they'll reject the whole thing. Then I'll sit down. I'll sit down and listen to them say that I'm insane because of what I did in Gander. And perhaps I am. I-I'm not sure, you know. A qualified psychiatrist will testify to that. I talked to three of them this afternoon. They... No, that was yesterday, wasn't it? But they showed me a page of ink blots and asked me... If it reminded me of elephants or tigers. Well, I... it didn't remind me of elephants or ti... it was just ink blots. I-I-I think that the truth is only that I-I've made a mistake somewhere in my work. I-I don't know where it is, but I have to have time to find out where the mistake is. But there won't be any time. And my work'll be thrown out in anger, and a principle that might've had one grain of truth in it will be lost. But I'll sit there. I'll sit there, and I won't say a word. And then what? Well, there's other work to be done. And I'll get back to doing it somewhere. I... With everything just as it was? Yes. I'm rather glad it's over. But you can't do that. You can't just sit there and say nothing. If you believe something is right, you have to do it if you want to live with yourself. If you don't, you'll have to pay for it sooner or later, and so will Elspeth. What about elspeth? Everything is just to be as it was for her too? Yes, she was very glad to have it that way. She was very happy. Oh, it's as simple as that. I see. Well, I'm sorry. It's the wrong time to talk. There isn't very much point either. It's my last day, you know. But I'd rather say good-bye when you come back. I start my job again tomorrow. Funny if they put me back on reindeers. That really would be gander all over again, wouldn't it? No, but you wouldn't do that? Supposing I did. Would you let me? Hello. It's time to get ready for school, isn't it? Yes. Did the tail fall off, father? No, dear, it didn't. You mustn't worry about it. It will someday. Oh, I don't know, dear. I-I suppose it will. Is anything the matter? No. I was just thinking. What about? Nothing. Just about the impermanence of events and things like that. What do you mean, dear? Well, about it's all being over. Miss Teasdale's gone, and miss Corder will be, and the people out in front... And everybody wanting to talk to me at school... that sort of thing isn't very permanent, is it? It's-it's like Christmas... everybody very nice to everybody else for a little while, but then it doesn't last. Why is that, father? Oh, I don't know, dear. Don't they talk to you all the time in school? Oh, no. I'm a swot, you know. Oh, I didn't know you were a swot. What is a swot? Well, a swot is rather the sort of person... People don't talk to very much because they're different. Like my intellectual quotient being too high. Well, do you mind being a swot? Oh, no. But it was exciting, rather not being. Everybody wanting me to get them autographs and things. But if things like that are so impermanent, like Christmas, then it would be much better if... I was thinking. I put away the things miss Teasdale gave me. And I was thinking maybe if I didn't go to school anymore, I'm sure I'd learn much more here with you, because there wouldn't be other things to think about and... Things being impermanent and... Dear, what? Well, you mustn't do that. What-what's the matter, dear? Go away! Well, are you sick, dear? I'm all right. Please, go away and leave me alone. I insist that to ground the reindeer fleet even for 24 hours... Would be a tacit admission of the charge that we have been flying unsafe aircraft. And I refuse to deal such a deathblow to British transatlantic aviation... On what is now the unsupported opinion of Mr. Theodore Honey. I'd suggest that the kindest thing that can be said of Mr. Honey... Is that his is an unstable mind... With an obsession that can carry him to great extremes, as we have well seen in Gander. I submit it is not only fair, but imperative, that an immediate finding to that effect be issued by this board. Well, gentlemen. My view is that I... Mr. chairman, I would like to try... Now, wait a minute, Mr... Mr. chairman. I'm going to say something. Now it isn't hard to see what you're going to decide, and you can't do that. Now you're talking about me because of what I did in Gander. And this isn't personal. I didn't invent the mathematics that made me believe what I did. And I still believe that there's truth in my work... test or no test. When you believe in something, that's what you've got to do, isn't it? If you want to live with yourself. Now I don't know what I'm going to do about this. I thought I might write The Times a letter. I don't think they'd understand either. So, the first thing I'm going to do is to resign right here and now... So the establishment won't be mixed up in it. And then, every time a reindeer is going to take off that shouldn't, I'm going out there and wreck it. Now, you may put me in jail... you may put me in jail, but they wrote a lot about me when I wrecked that one in Gander. They'll write more about me here. And people just won't get on those airplanes. And I'm going to tell you something else. The minute anything does happen to one of these reindeers, you're going to have to think of something better to say... Than anything I've heard here this afternoon. That's all. Good day. That's all. Well, gentlemen... Good afternoon. You know, there was some Sherry around here someplace. I rather thought I'd have some. Uh, it's over by that bookcase over there. Oh. Is it over? Yes, yes, it's over. I didn't stay for the end. I made a speech, and then I left. What about? Oh, a whole lot of things. Pretty good speech too. So you couldn't just sit there, then? No. Are there any glasses? Oh, here are some. No. I, uh... I resigned. You didn't. Well, I couldn't just sit there, could I? Well, what-what are you going to do to live on? There's Elspeth. Have you got any money at all, Mr. Honey? Well, I don't know how much, but... Where's your book? Book? Well, it's right there. Do you know how much money you have to live on? No. Three pounds, 13 and 6. No, wait. You haven't put anything in the bank for months. What do you do with your money? I-I think there's some over here in one of these. There. Here's some. Here's some more here. March, January. Two, three. Seven months! You haven't put anything into the bank for seven months. You have lots of money. I shouldn't have worried, should I? You don't need anyone. Yeah, well... Yes, you do. What's the matter? You're not going to cry? I can't go away and leave you and go back to work. It isn't safe. You've got to have somebody looking after you. I'm going to marry you and-and live here, whether you have a job or not. Well... you... Thank you. Yes, and he'll probably do it too. We'd better go see him before... Your secretary sent this over, sir John. She tried you at the meeting, but they wouldn't put her through. She said it was very urgent. Why, thank you. Where is sir David Moon? I hope he hasn't left. I can't wait for this. It's from Nixon in Labrador. He says they found the tail spar, and it's a fatigue fracture if ever he saw one. Sir John, I've had the most incredible piece of information. You haven't heard mine. They've just made the first test flight on our plane at gander after it was repaired. It made a perfect landing on the airport, and the tail collapsed while it was taxiing to the hangar. - I could hardly believe it, and I... - Perhaps this will help you. We've received two messages from Labrador and Gander which bear you out completely. Oh? Well, that's good. You-you know, I can't see where I could have gone wrong in this. I've worked it out through three different channels. Didn't you hear me? Ah, temperature. Temperature! That's it. That's a variable factor, isn't it? If that plane in gander had been flying in the tropics... This test is in a heated shed. It would have collapsed on schedule if I'd lowered the temperature 40 degrees.



A US Navy Lockheed TV-2 jet piloted by Captain Dale Heath (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), with an enlisted man (Troy Donahue) as a rear passenger, runs into trouble as soon as the aircraft gets airborne. Both Heath's radio and his navigation system become disabled, with no way to correctly determine their altitude. At the same time, a Douglas DC-7 airliner, piloted by veteran Dick Barnett (Dana Andrews), is carrying a full passenger complement, each with their own worries and problems with which they must deal.

Both Barnett and Heath have their personal crises, including Heath's unhappy marriage to an unfaithful wife (Rhonda Fleming) and Barnett's long-time conflict with his co-pilot, Mike Rule (John Kerr). Rule has his own personal demons, including no meaningful relationship with his catatonic father, and an affair with head stewardess Kitty Foster (Anne Francis).

Both aircraft, through various errors with their flight paths, are now on a direct collision course that air traffic controllers are unable to avert. When the crash inevitably occurs, Heath sacrifices himself and his passenger, making amends for a past air tragedy that he had caused. The airliner is badly damaged, and Louis Capelli (Joe Mantell), the flight engineer, is blown out of the aircraft, falling to his death, while the rest of the passengers and crew fight for their lives. Even with one engine destroyed and a wing on fire, Barnett brings the airliner down safely, but accepts responsibility for the collision during the accident investigation. In the aftermath of the crash, Mike and Kitty are not only survivors but are now planning a future life together.



Miniatures were used extensively to depict the aircraft in flight including the climactic crash scene.
Miniatures were used extensively to depict the aircraft in flight including the climactic crash scene.

Film rights to the novel The Crowded Sky, written by a former US Navy flyer, were sold before it was even published.[6][7] The screenplay extensively employs the device of characters thinking aloud. Screenwriter Charles Schnee felt that audiences at the time required more subtlety in characterization. Additional dialogue helped provide that, he concluded.[8]

The Crowded Sky was the first film role in more than a year for Dana Andrews, who had been appearing on Broadway in the play Two for the Seesaw. Andrews described the film "... as a kind of Bridge of San Luis Rey of the air".[9]

In order to prepare for his role, Zimbalist trained for 20 hours in a jet flight simulator to familiarize himself with the controls that his character would use.[10] For Troy Donahue, his role was a departure from the usual "teen heartthrob" films that he had made for Warner Bros.[11] The main theme music from Donahue's preceding film, A Summer Place, appears in the film's soundtrack. Principal photography began in mid-October and concluded in mid-November 1959.[12]


The Crowded Sky was received with mixed reviews by audience and critics alike. As a progenitor of the disaster films of the 1970s, it had some of the elements of the genre, but relied heavily on dialogue to the detriment of the impact of an aerial disaster. The Los Angeles Times called it "interesting but uneven".[13]Variety gave a mixed review upon the film's release, criticizing Pevney's directing, but praising the aerial scenes.[14]

In a more critical review in The New York Times, Eugene Archer called The Crowded Sky "reprehensible", as it exploited human tragedy. His review noted, "Possibly a meaningful film could be developed from this theme, but as directed with an emphasis on sensationalism by Joseph Pevney, the effect is as meretricious as it is harrowing".[15]

Modern reviews were more favorable. Glenn Erickson in DVD Talk gave a mostly positive review, but commented that The Crowded Sky came off more as an "unintentional comedy" than a serious drama film.[16] Reviewer Leonard Maltin called it a "slick film focusing on emotional problems aboard jet liner and Navy plane bound for fateful collision; superficial but diverting".[17]

See also



  1. ^ In Airport 75, both Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Dana Andrews reprised their roles, but in a reversal, Andrews does the crashing.[4]


  1. ^ Williams, Wirt. " 'Crowded Sky' weaves actual crises into pattern of disaster." Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1960, p. J7.
  2. ^ "Overview: 'The Crowded Sky' (1960)." Turner Classic Movies, 2019. Retrieved: August 12, 2019.
  3. ^ "Crowded Sky cast set." The Pittsburgh Press, November 2, 1959. Retrieved: August 26, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Nixon, Rob. "Articles: 'The Crowded Sky' (1960)." Turner Classic Movies, 2019. Retrieved: August 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Carlson 2012, p. 201.
  6. ^ Witkin, Richard. "Heavy traffic over Amarillo: 'The Crowded Sky' by Hank Searis." The New York Times, March 1960, p. BR42.
  7. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. "Paul Douglas will figure in 'Kidnap': Sturges to guide squadron; Russ discuss film exchange." Los Angeles Times, December 1, 1958, p. C15.
  8. ^ Schumach, Murray. "Day of improved movie dialogue and characterization in offing." The New York Times, June 25, 1959, p. 21.
  9. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. "Pantomimist will spout beat' verse: Dana Andrews resumes acting; Oakie returns to Paramount." Los Angeles Times, September 29, 1959, p. 27.
  10. ^ "Zimbalist takes pilot training for film role." St. Petersburg Times, August 2, 1960. Retrieved: August 26, 2014.
  11. ^ Maltin 1994, p. 236.
  12. ^ "Original Print Information: 'The Crowded Sky' (1960)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: August 26, 2014.
  13. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. "'Crowded Sky' planes keep date with destiny." Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1960, p. C12.
  14. ^ "The Crowded Sky." Variety's Film Reviews: 1959-1963. New Providence, New Jersey: R.R. Bowker, 1989. ISBN 978-0-83522-789-6.
  15. ^ Archer, Eugene. "The Crowded Sky (1960)". The New York Times, February 11, 1961.
  16. ^ Erickson, Glenn. "Review: The Crowded Sky." DVD Talk, January 25, 2010. Retrieved: August 26, 2014.
  17. ^ Maltin 2009, p. 300.


  • Carlson, Mark. Flying on Film: A Century of Aviation in the Movies, 1912–2012. Duncan, Oklahoma: BearManor Media, 2012. ISBN 978-1-59393-219-0.
  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Dutton, 1994. ISBN 0-525-93635-1.
  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. New York: New American Library, 2009 (originally published as TV Movies, then Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide), First edition 1969, published annually since 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2.

External links

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