No Highway in the Sky (1951)
Director: Henry Koster
Starring: James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins, Janette Scott, Elizabeth Allan, Ronald Squire & Jill Clifford
Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Based on Nevil Shute’s acclaimed novel, No Highway in the Sky stars James Stewart (Rear Window) as bookish aeronautical engineer Theodore Honey whose unproven theory concerning the failure of England’s Reindeer planes is challenged under dire circumstances. Aboard a Reindeer plane crossing its calculated flying time of disaster, the absent-minded yet nonetheless determined Honey painstakingly struggles to convince the crew of the certain doom that awaits them while, inspiring a famous actress passenger (Marlene Dietrich, Witness for the Prosecution) adored by his late wife and a kind flight attendant (Glynis John, Mary Poppins) to trust his judgement. Suspending viewers in a dizzying trance of nail-biting suspense, No Highway in the Sky reteams Stewart with his Harvey director, the underrated Henry Koster, in a professionally constructed aviation feature that not only puts lives in peril but, Honey’s credibility and sanity under fierce examination. Almost singlehandedly, Stewart’s performance of an eccentrically forgettable scientist and single father makes the film, as unconventional as it is, soar as gracefully as it does with Honey’s stirring sticktoitiveness serving as its glue and offering audiences a leading man to believe in.
KL Studio Classics presents No Highway in the Sky with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. With the exception of expectant traces of speckling and sporadic vertical lines, the black and white cinematography arrives in otherwise splendid condition with strong detail observed in facial features while, Stewart’s dark suit and jacket are displayed with throughly inky levels. Joined by a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that captures dialogue exchanges with ease, the engines of the Reindeer plane roar satisfactorily without overwhelming the track’s more primary concerns. Surprisingly and most pleasingly to report, cracks and pops are of no discernible concern. Special features include, a rather chatty and informative Audio Commentary with Film Historian Jeremy Arnold & Bob Koster that deeply covers the film’s making as well as the directorial career of Koster’s father who claims No Highway in the Sky was one of the late Koster’s proudest efforts. In addition, Trailers for No Highway in the Sky (2:09), Deadline - U.S.A. (2:45), Ten Seconds to Hell (2:14) and Witness for the Prosecution (3:07) conclude the on disc supplements while, Reversible Cover Art reveals the film’s gorgeous U.S. 1-sheet poster presented centerfold style. Richly conceived and remarkably performed by Stewart, No Highway in the Sky is an undervalued suspense-drama worthy of new sights now made possible by KL Studio Classics’ solid hi-def handling.