No Highway in the Sky (1951) James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins, Janette Scott Movie Review

No Highway in the Sky (1951)   3/53/53/53/53/5

James Stewart and Glynis Johns in No Highway in the Sky (1951)

1440 Hours to Failure

Absent minded aeronautical engineer Theodore Honey (James Stewart) has lived in London for the last 11 years, with his daughter Elspeth (Janette Scott), where he is exploring his theory that a group of planes made by the company he works for are more likely to suffer a crash as the metal suffers fatigue after a specific period of time in the air. It is because of this that he is asked to go to Labrador to examine the wreckage of a plane built by the company he works for. Unfortunately for Honey he boards one of the planes which according to his calculations is due to suffer a failure within a few hours whilst in flight. With no choice Honey warns the crew and cause an incident in the process. It leads to Honey's sanity being questioned when the plane lands without issue but is also leads to flight attendant Marjorie Corder (Glynis Johns) feeling sympathy for him as does movie star Monica Teasdale (Marlene Dietrich).

"No Highway in the Sky" is not a very well known movie despite having a cast lead by the big names of James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, and I put it down to it being a bit of a curiosity. It is a curiosity as whilst we have James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich in the leads the rest of the cast is made up of British talent such as Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins and even Kenneth More shows up in a minor role as a pilot. It is a mix which sort of says to me that whilst this might have entertained British audiences on its release it probably didn't do the same for audiences in America; in fact I even wonder whether if "No Highway in the Sky" was given much of a run on its original release.

Marlene Dietrich in No Highway in the Sky (1951)

But it isn't just the mix of actors which makes this curious as the opening half an hour almost has a comical side with James Stewart really putting it on as the obsessive yet absent minded engineer. But then once he boards the plane that might crash you get this surprisingly low level drama as Honey not only befriends and warns both a movie star and a stewardess but the whole thing goes on with surprisingly little atmosphere. In fact the atmosphere comes later on with the real focus of the movie being Honey determined to prove he isn't wrong and in doing so proving he isn't insane which many of his superiors believe he has become. I say there is more atmosphere when in truth it again leaves you slightly under whelmed as it lacks intensity. Sadly a romantic subplot which forms also ends up leaving you under whelmed at the same time.

What this all boils down to is that on paper the storyline to "No Highway in the Sky" has plenty of potential to be a gripping thriller but the end product fails to deliver the atmosphere whilst also ending up curious due to the casting choices.