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The High and The Mighty

As big of a fan as I am of both "Airport" and "Airplane", it's about time I finally caught up with the granddaddy of all in-flight disaster movies, 1954's THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY.

John Wayne leads the cast as veteran pilot Dan Roman, flying as co-pilot on a flight from Hawaii back to the states.

This is a different time of air travel, when all of our passengers dress up in their finest and bring their personal problems loud and proud aboard our 12 hour flight (12 hours!) on the prop flight to San Francisco.

We have a successful business man, a self absorbed actor, a jealous husband, a 29 year old former beauty queen about to meet her pen pal name the cliche, they have a seat.

It's all horribly old fashioned and still lots of fun, even though modern sensibilities render a lot of the cliches and stereotypes as corny and dated.

John Wayne is terrific as our co-pilot, wrestling with his own inner demons of a tragic crash several years before. As he realizes that lead pilot Robert Stack (almost hard to take seriously here as he so closely echoes his "Airplane" role) is not up for any in-flight pressures, Wayne must assume the role of hero.

Once the flight passes the "point of no return" to San Francisco and begins suffering serious mechanical difficulties, the film takes off nicely, thanks to Dimitri Tomkin's Academy Award winning music score, Wayne's heroics and a talented cast.

The next time I see "Airplane", I think it will be twice as funny, now knowing where so many of the jokes came from in film history.

Overly dramatic, sometimes cheesy but undeniably fun, The High and The Mighty still takes flight after sixty years and gets a B-.

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