Island in the Sky

Island in the Sky

3.3 3
Director: William Wellman

Cast: John Wayne, Lloyd Nolan, Walter Abel

     
 
During World War II, a Military Air Transport Command DC-3 piloted by a civilian crew is forced down in northern Labrador. The five men, led by Dooley (John Wayne), have barely any food and almost no way to keep warm, and their power supply is fading fast, but they have to find a way of staying alive until search planes find them. At first, even Dooley is overwhelmed

Overview

During World War II, a Military Air Transport Command DC-3 piloted by a civilian crew is forced down in northern Labrador. The five men, led by Dooley (John Wayne), have barely any food and almost no way to keep warm, and their power supply is fading fast, but they have to find a way of staying alive until search planes find them. At first, even Dooley is overwhelmed by the responsibility for his crew's safety, and he is too lax in handling them -- but after one man dies, frozen to death just steps from help, he takes over and pushes his men and himself to the limits of their endurance; he even seems ready to crack himself at one moment. Meanwhile, the men who fly with Dooley push themselves and their machines past their endurance limits searching the arctic wastes for the downed plane. Island in the Sky -- based on the book by Ernest K. Gann (perhaps the best aviation novel ever written), which was, in turn, based on a true incident that happened during the war -- is one of the most startling movies in Wayne's output. He doesn't even look like the "star" John Wayne, but like a real pilot, and the cast, made up of familiar faces, all look like the real article; indeed, this movie should have been in the running for Academy Awards for costuming and makeup, just for making these familiar performers, such as Lloyd Nolan (in maybe his best performance) and Andy Devine (ditto), look like real pilots and ordinary men, rather than familiar actors. You end up feeling like you're watching a documentary, and the effect is bracing and unsettling, and dramatically unparalleled in Wayne's entire output.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Island in the Sky is a minor but quite effective adventure drama that is rarely seen (due apparently to the wishes of the John Wayne estate). Island falls short of classic status, primarily because it succumbs to cliché in a number of situations and because it tends toward preachiness. In addition, the narration becomes rather annoying and intrusive at times, although it does add to the pseudo-documentary flavor of the movie. If the viewer can put these flaws aside, however, he will likely find himself caught up in the action, due in no small part to William Wellman's taut direction which does a fine job of combining bleakness and despair with an indomitability of spirit. Wellman is helped by his first rate cast, with Wayne turning in the kind of powerful "anchor" performance that this kind of film needs. He gets more than capable support from Lloyd Nolan and Andy Devine, as well as a young James Arness. Island exerts a real pull, and is the kind of film that stays with the viewer longer than might be expected.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/02/2005
UPC:
0097360289343
Original Release:
1953
Rating:
NR
Source:
Paramount
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:49:00
Sales rank:
9,788

Special Features

Closed Caption; Introduction by Leonard Maltin; Commentary by Leonard Maltin, William Wellman Jr., Darryl Hickman, James Lydon, and Vincent Longo; "Dooley's Down: The Making of Island in the Sky"; "Ernest K. Gann -- Adventurer, Author & Artist"; "Flight School -- The Art of Aerial Cinematography"; "The John Wayne Stock Company: Harry Carey, Jr."; "Flying for Uncle Sam"; Theatrical trailer; Newsreel footage of premiere; Introduction to Gunsmoke TV promo; Batjac montage; Photo gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Wayne Capt. Dooley
Lloyd Nolan Stutz
Walter Abel Col. Fuller
James Arness McMullen
Andy Devine Moon
Allyn Joslyn J.H. Handy
Jimmy Lydon Murray, the navigator
Harry Carey Hunt
Hal Baylor Stankowski, the engineer
Sean McClory Frank Lovatt, the Copilot
Wally Cassell D'Annunzia, the radioman
Gordon Jones Walrus
Frank Fenton Capt. Turner
Robert Keys Major Ditson
Sumner Getchell Lieutenant Cord
Regis Toomey Sgt. Harper
Paul Fix Miller
George Chandler Rene
Louis Jean Heydt Fitch
Bob Steele Wilson
Darryl Hickman Swanson
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer Hopper
Tony DeMario Ogden
Gene Coogan Actor
John Indrisano Actor
Tom Irish Actor
Richard "Hock" Walsh Actor
Herbert Anderson Breezy
Dawn Bender Murray's wife
Ann Doran Moon's wife
Michael Connors Gainer

Technical Credits
William Wellman Director
James Basevi Production Designer
William H. Clothier Cinematographer
Ralph Dawson Editor
Robert M. Fellows Producer
Ernest K. Gann Screenwriter
Emil Newman Score Composer
Louis Clyde Stoumen Cinematographer
Archie J. Stout Cinematographer
John Wayne Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. The World Aloft [:16]
2. In a Jam [7:55]
3. Organizing the Seach Party [:43]
4. McMullen, Fitch, and Moon [7:10]
5. An Almost Audible Silence [7:24]
6. The Corsair Mountains [2:19]
7. Lovatt's Plight [5:41]
8. Odd Man Leads [:52]
9. Last of the Batteries [7:01]
10. Going Up on the Stairs [1:04]
11. Dooley's Strength [7:09]
12. Breaking Through [1:43]

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Island in the Sky 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Saw this movie only once, in 1953 at the age of 7 at the local drive-in. Have absolutely no memory of the movie but read the book (out of print almost as long as the movie) a few years ago and wished I could ask Mr Gann what he had in mind when he wrote it. Unfortunately I was a few years too late. To my amazement the book reads almost like a parody of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart with everything reversed, north, south, flying east across an ocean, flying west across an ocean, equatorial heat, arctic cold, landing on water (frozen) surrounded by trackless land, looking to land on land surrounded by trackless water. The clincher? The Coast Guard cutter "Itasca" standing guard to lead both flights to their destination. And missed both times! Either Mr Gann knew something nobody else did or he had a heck of a sense of humor. Anxiously looking forward to seeing this movie again after all these years to see if it resembles the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you're thinking that this is just a disaster movie,it isn't.It's an excellent story of survival about the crew of a downed military transport plane and the efforts to rescue them.The movie is beautifully shot in black and white.It benefits enormously from a solid,well-structured Ernest K.Gann script,excellent William Wellman direction, and a terrific Emil Newman score.There are top-notch performances all around,with John Wayne in fine form.And Lloyd Nolan steals the picture as his best friend.This is a great movie well worth watching.