|No Highway in the Sky|
|Directed by||Henry Koster|
|Based on|| No Highway |
by Nevil Shute
|Produced by||Louis D. Lighton|
|Edited by||Manuel del Campo|
|Music by||Malcolm Arnold|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Box office||$1.1 million (US rentals)  |
No Highway in the Sky (also known as No Highway) is a 1951 black-and-white aviation drama film directed by Henry Koster from a screenplay by R. C. Sherriff, Oscar Millard, and Alec Coppel, based on the 1948 novel No Highway by Nevil Shute. The film stars James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins, Janette Scott, Elizabeth Allan, Ronald Squire, and Jill Clifford.
It was one of the first films that depicted a potential aviation disaster involving metal fatigue. Although the film follows the plot of Shute's novel in general, No Highway in the Sky notably omits references to the supernatural contained in the original novel, including the use of automatic writing to resolve a key element in the original novel's story. Also, the role of Scott, the recently appointed administrator who narrates the novel, is curtailed in the film version; which means that the featured scientist, Mr Honey, comes across as more eccentric than in the novel, changing the relationship between them.
The film also introduces the term "boffin" for the under-appreciated and seemingly self-centred and eccentric scientist, as distinct from earlier usage to describe a scientist who is making vital (and appreciated) contributions.
Dennis Scott, new chief of metallurgy at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, is introduced to Theodore Honey, an eccentric American scientist who is testing his theory that the new Rutland Reindeer aircraft is susceptible to structural failure of the tailplane. Honey is running a fatigue test on the fin and tailplane (empennage) of a Reindeer, using a very high vibration rate dynamic shaker in an eight-hour daily test cycle (determined by complaints from neighbours). Eventually, it will fall off. ( Destructive testing, revolutionary in 1951, became standard operating procedure in aircraft development.)
Scott gives Honey a ride home and learns that he is a widower whose wife was killed by a V2 rocket during the war. The perfect embodiment of the absent-minded professor, Honey has educated his brilliant but reserved 12-year-old daughter, Elspeth, at home, without any real understanding of a child's need for play and friends. Honey tells Scott he expects failure to occur after 1440 flight hours. Scott notes that commercial planes are building up miles faster than the experiment, and Honey becomes very upset, declaring that he is a scientist, he can't be concerned about people.
In the company bar, Scott runs into a test pilot, an old friend from WWII, who tells him about the recent crash of a Reindeer in Labrador. The plane had flown 1407 hours. The tail was never found, the pilot was blamed, and Scott suspects Honey's theory is correct. He informs Sir John, the head of RAE, who puts the vibration test on a 24-hour basis.
Honey is sent to Labrador to examine the wreckage, but finds himself flying across the Atlantic on a Reindeer airliner. He was told that all Reindeer have only 500 hours in service, but is shocked to learn that this early production aircraft had already logged 1422 hours at takeoff. Despite the fact that his theory is not yet proven, he warns the captain, who contacts London for advice. Honey also shows the safest place to survive a crash to renowned Hollywood actress Monica Teasdale, who meant a great deal to his wife. Teasdale believes Honey and through a night of waiting she grows close to him, as does stewardess Marjorie Corder.
The Reindeer lands safely at Gander Airport in Newfoundland, and an inspection clears it to continue on its route. Honey takes drastic action to stop the flight by retracting the landing gear, dropping the aircraft on its belly and wrecking it. Honey is detained, and Corder offers to go to Elspeth when she returns to England.
The next day, Teasdale speaks to Honey's superiors on his behalf. Sir John promises to seek the truth. However, there are powerful men who demand that Honey be repudiated to discredit his unproved theory, and to save the reputation of British passenger aviation, now awash in a sea of bad press. Sir John tells a shaken Honey that he must undergo psychological testing. Honey goes home to find the house in order and Corder spending the night with Elspeth.
Teasdale, who has also been helping Elspeth, abruptly leaves for California, deliberately allowing space for any romance between Corder and Honey to develop. Honey returns to his experiment but the 1440th hour soon passes without any structural failure. Corder is angered by his readiness to surrender and his failure to see how Elspeth is suffering.
During a board meeting, Sir David questions Honey's sanity. Honey finally objects, refusing to be railroaded. He resigns and threatens to protest at the departure of every Rutland Reindeer—and collapse them, too. He walks out. At home, Corder worries what he will live on and discovers that he has not deposited his salary in the bank for seven months. Laughing and crying, she says he has to have someone to look after him. She is going to marry him.
Meanwhile, the Reindeer Honey disabled is repaired, but the tail falls off after its next landing. The tail spar is found in Labrador, showing metal fatigue. Scott, Sir John and Corder run to tell Honey in his lab and there is a horrific crashing noise as the tail separates, at last. Honey realizes that he failed to account for temperature.
The first writer who worked on the script was R. C. Sherriff. The story was then assigned to producer Buddy Lighton, who hired Oscar Millard to do the screenplay. Millard said he spent six months writing the script without ever looking at a Sheriff draft. In London, the producer Buddy Lighton hired Alec Coppel to rewrite some scenes that were based at the Farnborough Aircraft Establishment. 
The actor Robert Donat was originally cast in the lead role, but when the deal fell through, James Stewart was cast.  This would be the second pairing of Stewart with Marlene Dietrich, the first being 1939's Destry Rides Again .
No Highway in the Sky, the film's working title, became the theatrical release title for English-speaking countries apart from the UK, where it retained the novel title No Highway. As noted in contemporary sources, filming took place in 1950 at Denham Studios, with location shooting at the Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, England, although the scene with a Gloster E.1/44 prototype was possibly staged at Boscombe Down. 
In November 1950, The Hollywood Reporter claimed that Stewart underwent an emergency appendectomy in London while the film was in production. 
Director Koster called it "one of my finest pictures. I thought it was a marvelous story and I had a marvelous script by very fine writers". 
The film was popular at the British box office.  20th Century Fox were so impressed with Kenneth More's performance they arranged for him to be tested for other films but did not use him. 
Reviews of No Highway in the Sky were decidedly mixed. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote a favourable review, noting the film's "... sly construction of an unusual plot and wry suspense". 
In a more recent appraisal, reviewer Dennis Schwartz opined:
American military war hero pilot James Stewart plays the eccentric Yank scientist working for a British airline [Stewart's character was not actually working for an airline but rather the government RAE Farnborough.], and it gives one of his better and more pleasing performances as someone kindhearted but a bit daffy. ... The one-dimensional characters add no emotional depth, especially when the awkward romance is tossed onto the airplane drama, but Stewart plays a likable character that translates into a rather genial pic with much appeal. 
Three years after the film, and six years after the publication of Nevil Shute's original novel ( No Highway ), there were two fatal crashes of the world's first jet passenger airliner, the de Havilland Comet. Investigation found that metal fatigue was the cause of both accidents, albeit in the main fuselage and not the tail section. 
On 28 April 1952, before a live studio audience, Stewart and Dietrich, along with a full cast, reprised their roles in an adaptation of No Highway in the Sky on the CBS Lux Radio Theatre .  [Note 1]
A BBC Radio 4 Classic Serial was dramatised by Brian Gear in three episodes, broadcast weekly from 11 May 1986, starring John Clegg as Theodore Honey, Norman Bowler as Scott, and Margaret Robertson as Monica Teasdale.[ citation needed ]
No Highway, a BBC radio adaptation dramatised by Mike Walker with Paul Ritter as Honey, William Beck as Scott, and Fenella Woolgar as Teasdale was directed by Toby Swift for BBC Radio 4's Classic Serial in August 2010.[ citation needed ]
The central element of No Highway in the Sky (a concerned airline passenger having unique knowledge of an imminent danger, taking drastic action to eliminate it and being regarded as crazy) is comparable to that of The Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", starring William Shatner, although that involves damage caused by a mysterious creature tearing at the wing. A similar additional scene in the 1983 Twilight Zone anthology feature film is that of the character played by John Lithgow, who like that of James Stewart, is portrayed as an engineering expert. 
Destry Rides Again is a 1939 American Western comedy film directed by George Marshall and starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. The supporting cast includes Mischa Auer, Charles Winninger, Brian Donlevy, Allen Jenkins, Irene Hervey, Billy Gilbert, Bill Cody Jr., Lillian Yarbo, and Una Merkel.
Airspeed Limited was established in 1931 to build aeroplanes in York, England, by A. H. Tiltman and Nevil Shute Norway. The other directors were A. E. Hewitt, Lord Grimthorpe and Alan Cobham. Amy Johnson was also one of the initial subscribers for shares.
Nevil Shute Norway was an English novelist and aeronautical engineer who spent his later years in Australia. He used his full name in his engineering career and Nevil Shute as his pen name, in order to protect his engineering career from inferences by his employers (Vickers) or from fellow engineers that he was '"not a serious person" or from potentially adverse publicity in connection with his novels, which included On the Beach and A Town Like Alice.
Glynis Margaret Payne Johns is a British retired actress, dancer, musician and singer. Recognised as a film and Broadway icon, Johns has a career spanning eight decades, in which she appeared in more than 60 films and 30 plays. She is the recipient of awards and nominations in various drama award denominations, including the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the Laurel Awards, the Tony Awards, the Drama Desk Awards, and the Laurence Olivier Awards, within which she has won two thirds of her nominations. As one of the last surviving major stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood and classical years of British cinema, she has several longevity records to her name.
Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich was a German and American actress and singer whose career spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s.
On the Beach is an apocalyptic novel published in 1957, written by British author Nevil Shute after he emigrated to Australia. The novel details the experiences of a mixed group of people in Melbourne as they await the arrival of deadly radiation spreading towards them from the Northern Hemisphere, following a nuclear war the previous year. As the radiation approaches, each person deals with impending death differently.
The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.
In destructive testing tests are carried out to the specimen's failure, in order to understand a specimen's performance or material behavior under different loads. These tests are generally much easier to carry out, yield more information, and are easier to interpret than nondestructive testing. Destructive testing is most suitable, and economic, for objects which will be mass-produced, as the cost of destroying a small number of specimens is negligible. It is usually not economical to do destructive testing where only one or very few items are to be produced. Analyzing and documenting the destructive failure mode is often accomplished using a high-speed camera recording continuously (movie-loop) until the failure is detected. Detecting the failure can be accomplished using a sound detector or stress gauge which produces a signal to trigger the high-speed camera. These high-speed cameras have advanced recording modes to capture almost any type of destructive failure. After the failure the high-speed camera will stop recording. The captured images can be played back in slow motion showing precisely what happens before, during and after the destructive event, image by image.
No Highway is a 1948 novel by Nevil Shute. It formed the basis of the 1951 film No Highway in the Sky.
Boffin is a British slang term for a scientist, engineer, or other person engaged in technical or scientific research and development. A "boffin" was viewed by some in the regular services as odd, quirky or peculiar, though quite bright and essential to helping in the war effort through having and developing the key ideas leading to transformative military capabilities.
Sir Alan John Cobham, KBE, AFC was an English aviation pioneer.
The following lists events that happened during 1960 in Australia.
Events from the year 1952 in the United Kingdom. This year sees a change of monarch.
The Spoilers is a 1942 American Western film directed by Ray Enright and starring Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne.
Oscar Millard was an English writer who published two books set in Belgium before finding success in Hollywood as a screenwriter.
Elspeth or Elspet is a feminine given name, which is the Scottish form of Elizabeth. It means "chosen by God" or "consecrated by God".
Landfall: A Channel Story is a novel by Nevil Shute. It was first published in England in 1940 by Heinemann.
On the Beach is a 1959 American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama film from United Artists starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins. Produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, it is based on Nevil Shute's 1957 novel On the Beach depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war. Unlike the novel, no one is assigned blame for starting the war, which attributes global annihilation to fear compounded by accident or misjudgment.
Reindeer is a deer from Arctic and Subarctic North America and Eurasia; it may refer to:
Sir William Scott Farren was a pioneer in flight, a British aeronautical engineer, the Director of the Farnborough establishment during WW2 and the former technical director of the Manchester-based aircraft company Avro during the 1950s.