Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Crowded Sky (1960)

The Crowded Sky (1960)
Director: Joseph Pevney
Warner Archive DVDr

"Dana Andrews and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. play pilots on a crash course with destiny in ...THE CROWDED SKY!" I assume that the trailer would have ended with that phrase but Warner didn't include it on the disc. And even though the film's main plot can be broken down to sound like a precursor to the disaster films of the seventies, Charles Schnee's intelligent script is about much more than that. At it's heart, it's a story of people not wanting to commit the mistakes of their pasts or the sins of their fathers. The story starts with Zimbalist Jr. who is flying from the west to the east coast with a young navy man in tow. At the same time, Andrews leaves the east coast flying a commercial airliner full of passengers to the west. You probably guess where that's heading, but along the way we're introduced to our main characters and the main players in their lives through a series of flashbacks that have led them to this moment and the circumstances that have created a dangerous situation in the air. The dialog is intelligent and mature and touches on some surprising subject matter for 1960 including abortion, pre-marital sex, and adultery. But the most shocking aspect deals with the idea that some of the characters don't like their children and the kids know it, and that's just the way it is. It deftly shows a deconstruction of the nuclear family image that was so popular in the fifties. But it's not all lollipops and rainbows, the film has it's low points too. The score ranges from generic to ridiculous with tonal shifts of sit-com cues to foreboding within the same scene. There is also an over-use of comic relief from periphery characters that don't add much to the main proceedings. And even though the movie has a downbeat ending, there's an epilogue that's way too happy so you didn't have to leave the theater too sad.

The Warner Archive produces these discs on DVDr manufactured on demand (MOD).The quality is better than gray market discs I've seen and this one has less hazing than others from the archive. It's presented anamorphically in a 1.85:1 framing.

7 / 10

and in case you forget what movie you're watching, they say the title aloud twice!

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