Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Jet Storm, 1959

AIRPORT is of course the grand-daddy of bomb-on-airplane movies, but JET STORM a proficient little British thriller (all wrapped up in 84 minutes) from 1959 is a neat entry in these "doomed flight" movies popular in the '50s and is one I had wanted to re-see for a long time. Nearly every one of the 32 people on the plane is a well-known face from the time, and director Cy Endfield (he also co-scripted and wrote the theme song, sung by Marty Wilde) keeps it moving nicely, like he did with HELL DRIVERS, his tough thriller in 1957 also headlining Stanley Baker (with the likes of Patrick McGoohan and Sean Connery in support).

This was also the year of SOS PACIFIC, another one I liked then, and the very silly JET OVER THE ATLANTIC, while 1960's THE CROWDED SKY had the required Warner Bros gloss and cast, the '50s also had THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, a John Wayne starrer from 1954 and another Sunday matinee favourite then BACK FROM ETERNITY with Anita Ekberg in '56 where the plane crash-lands among head-hunters! (see Airlines label for reviews of these).

Richard Attenborough plays Ernest Tilley, a man who lost his daughter in a hit-and-run accident. He tracks down the man responsible for the accident and boards the same plane, threatening to blow up himself and everyone on board as an act of vengeance. What follows is an Airport-type movie with all the passengers having their own little subplots and fears.

This is the first All Star British Disaster Epic. The action takes place on an airliner bound for New York and the passenger list reads like a who's who of up and coming names - Diane Cilento, Virginia Maskell, pop star Marty Wilde with starlet Jackie Lane, future TV star Paul Eddington, established stars - Mai Zetterling, Elizabeth Sellers, Megs Jenkins, David Kossoff, and acting royalty in the form of Dame Sybil Thorndyke, having fun with comedian and goon Harry Secombe, and tv celebrities Bernard Braden and Barbara Kelly. Before he became a "grand" director, Richard Attenborough specialised in weasely roles like this - he is equally slimey in SOS PACIFIC that year. George Rose is splendidly loathesome as the man who killed Attenborough's child (he does a GOLDFINGER!), as is Hermoine Baddely (aptly named Mrs Slatterly) as the lush widow goading on the men like Patrick Allen to attack and find the bomb. Some passengers of course become hysterical and some try to take the law into their own hands. Virginia Maskell is the capable stewardess and you could not wish for a better captain that Stanley Baker - who was quite busy that year what with Losey's BLIND DATE (Baker, Losey labels), and forgotten items like YESTERDAY'S ENEMY and THE ANGRY HILLS, before going on to HELL IS A CITY and GUNS OF NAVARONE in 1960. Again, it shows how different flying was back then, the roomy seats and space the passengers have ... like in PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER, a Bette Davis drama from 1952.

1959 remains one of the best movie years as far as I am concerned, as good as 1939 certainly - in fact every year from 1957 through to 1964 is, and nicely coincided with my teenage movie-going years. JET STORM should have a proper dvd release, its a popular British film of that year, up there with ROOM AT THE TOP, I'M ALL RIGHT JACK, EXPRESSO BONGO, Losey's BLIND DATE, Dirk's THE WIND CANNOT READ, LIBEL and THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA and interesting dramas like THE JOURNEY, SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL etc, and all those 1959 hits from BEN HUR to SOME LIKE IT HOT plus euro-titles like EYES WITHOUT A FACE, THE 400 BLOWS, LES DRAGUEURS etc, as per 1959 label, while also that year the likes of Antonioni, Hitchcock, Fellini & Visconti were preparing their 1960 masterpieces ...

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