I had not seen THE SOUND BARRIER before and it is a revelation. Totally engrossing and marvellously filmed by David Lean, as meticulous as ever, with great depths of controlled feeling and emotion, depicting the breaking of the sound barrier. This may have been done by pilot Chuck Yeager back in 1947 (as shown in THE RIGHT STUFF), but this drama excels as driven industrialist Ralph Richardson and his equally driven test pilots Nigel Patrick and then John Justin take the controls of those aircraft. We get great aerial photography, no obvious process shots, and those aircraft like the Comet are lovingly filmed. Ann Todd (Mrs Lean at the time) excels here, as she does in Lean's 1948 THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS (another great discovery recently) as Richardson's daughter who has already seen her brother (Denholm Elliot) die in a plane crash trying to please his father, and now her husband is also going to try to smash the sound barrier. That excellent actor John Justin is the other pilot - with that ideal home life with Dinah Sheridan to whom Todd flees when she can no longer stay with her tyrant (or is he?) father. The drama is nicely resolved and there is a nice detour with a trip to Egypt - quite a novelty then I imagine. It is just a perfect early 50s British film, with those actors like Richardson, Patrick and Todd at the top of their game, as of course was Lean and Rattigan.
Once a brilliant teacher, Redgrave has turned into a desiccated, unfeeling pedant, despised by his colleagues and feared by his pupils, apart from young Taplow. Ill-health has prompted his early retirement, but it is apparent that his departure will go unmourned, in contrast to that of his attractive wife (Jean Kent). Dismissed as outdated and irrelevant after the Angry Young Men of the mid '50s rendered his middle-class scenarios unfashionable, Rattigan was a master technician of drama, and his dialogue and pacing are faultless. I like that long terrific scene with Redgrave and Patrick where the latter regrets his affair with the spiteful wife and tries to make amends, but Redgrave knows well how unsatisfied his wife is and how it is his fault. There is so much restraint and control here it is quite affecting. There was a 1994 remake but like those lightweight recent remakes of Wilde's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST and AN IDEAL HUSBAND they are just not in the same league as the 1952 and 1947 originals.