Saturday, June 18, 2016

JET OVER THE ATLANTIC (1959)


With obvious roots to the “The High and The Mighty,” the result of this B-movie may have forced Guy Madison to only do foreign films from here on. Notice the first few notes of the main theme are lifted from that film as well. Not exciting enough to be a thriller, the film does fall into the disaster category. The holes in the script are numerous and the only storylines that are important is the love story between Madison and his co-star, Virginia Mayo and whether Madison is going to prison. She is not aware that FBI agent, George Raft, is assigned to arrest him for two alleged murders. Raft looks like Inspector Gadget in the opening sequence.

George McCready had one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood. A menacing growl of strength, yet respectability, that sounded like he has not gotten over a massive head cold. Here, he plays a wealthy deranged man who feels responsible for his young daughter’s death. We are not told why. He is convinced that killing all the people on the plane, including himself, will make amends. He meets a character before the flight who does his best Peter Lorre impersonation and hands over a wrapped chemical device/bomb which looks like a deli-wrapped ham. As deadly as a five pound canned ham can be up side the head, this device triggers a toxic chemical to kill the pilots. But only make the passengers sleepy. Apparently.

Those pilots begin taxing a Bristol Brittania airliner. The British-built plane that was the pinnacle of turbo-prop travel but arriving too late on the market to be a success. It was shut out by the jet airliners. So the title of this film is out of whack but to be fair, many referred to turbo-props as jet-props in the day. Admittedly, “Turbo-prop over the Atlantic” does not roll off the tongue and the advertising department could not use “Turbo-prop” in place of “Jet-Hot.” The pilots are completely unaware that when their plane takes off, it becomes a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. Continuing the poor editing trend, the plane is cruising at altitude but the insertion clip shows the landing gear still down. They probably will not have enough fuel to make New York City anyway with all that drag. There is a “rear lounge” in the plane that is large enough to be on a cruise ship. Nearing the end of the film, one asphyxiated pilot informs the passengers of their status in a voice of groggy, unintelligible doom. I suspect not very comforting to the passengers.

There are the usual annoying characters on board. All of which will only remind you of the famous Zucker Brothers air disaster production. There is a wedding for Madison and Mayo during the flight. Raft is nearly shot by McCready but Madison saves his life. Gunshots ring out several times while in flight. The script is bound and determined to bring the plane down one way or another. Autopilot saves the day after the flight crew is poisoned. Fortunately, Madison flew 4-engined planes during the war and lands the plane safely. Whew! We learn that Madison was framed and having saved everyone on board, Raft has the last words of the film, “Yeah. Quite a guy.” Guy Madison, that is.

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