No Highway in the Sky

Director– Henry Koster

Starring – James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns

Country of Origin – US/UK

Review Format: Blu-ray

Discs - 1

Distributor - Kino Lorber

Reviewer - David Steigman

Date - 03/02/2017

The Film (3.5/5)

James Stewart is one my all-time favorite actors, so whenever there is a movie with him that I haven’t seen before and gets released on home video, I’m very eager to view it and/ or review the film.  Such was the case with this 1951 classic, No Highway in the Sky, where he plays an airplane engineer, Theodore Honey. Living in Farnborough with his 12 year old daughter, he is sent to Labrador, Canada to inspect and learn why a British aircraft called the Reindeer built by the company he works for has crashed. His theory is that after 1440 hours of use, the plane falls apart, starting at the tail, calling it metal fatigue. He starts to run some tests to prove his theory. Later, ironically enough, a plane that Honey is riding on route to England is a Reindeer aircraft which he discovers has been used for over 1400 hours. He starts to panic and talks to the plane’s captain warning him that if he doesn’t turn the airplane around, it will crash, killing all of the passengers. Along for the ride on the plane is Marlene Dietrich (The Blue Angel), playing film American star Monica Teasdale. Because Honey and wife had seen her films and holds her in high regard, he warns her that the plane might crash and instructs her on what to do if that happens, so her life will be saved. After enough commotion from Honey, The Reindeer lands safely, but Honey, still filled with anxiety, pulls a lever in the aircraft and actually wrecks it. He winds up in an English courtroom defending his own sanity with the support of both Monica Teasdale and the plane’s stewardess Marjorie Corder (Glynis Johns, Helter Skelter) who took a liking to him. They both have sympathy and compassion for Honey. Without sufficient evidence of his theory or anyone believing him in the courtroom, feeling distraught and under the impression that he will be fired, he resigns from his position. Having returned to his laboratory, Honey is still trying to figure out his theory of metal fatigue by experimenting with the now repaired Reindeer plane which he rode, where he learns an important revelation, giving him a huge sigh of relief.

No Highway in the Sky is another good James Stewart programmer, and he turns in another fine performance, playing a somewhat softer spoken, less eccentric role than many of his other films earlier in his career. Marlene Dietrich also plays her role of a concerned celebrity well, although it appears that she doesn’t have much to do in this film and her role seems somewhat minimal, basically a very large second fiddle to James Stewart. The remaining cast which includes veteran actors Jack Hawkins (The Fallen Idol, Theater of Blood), Ronald Squire (Footsteps in the Fog, Woman Hater) and Janette Scott (The Day of the Triffids, Helen of Troy) all give fine performances. Director Koster does a great job keeping the film moving along, keeping it all together.

Audio/Video (3.5/5)

No Highway in the Sky is given its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Kino Lorber.  The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:33:1, in 1080p with an MPEG 4 - AVC encode. The image quality for this film looks good overall. This sports a very crisp clear transfer, with solid black levels and excellent grey scale. A couple of times there is some blur and some faint vertical lines that appear here and there throughout but nothing that I would call serious or ruins the viewing experience. It’s the best it most likely will look on home video. 

The audio used for No Highway in the Sky is English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The dialog exchanges, airplanes flying and music are all perfectly sound

Extras (2/5)

Supplements for No Highway in the Sky are an audio commentary with Film Historian and Jeremy Arnold and trailers for No Highway in the Sky , Deadline - U.S.A. , Ten Seconds To Hell and Witness for the Prosecution

Overall (3.5/5)

No Highway in the Sky is another great film with James Stewart, which is now on Blu-ray, thanks to Kino Lorber. Not every release will have a lot of extras and not every release of an older film on Blu-ray is going to be glamourous, but this one is more than serviceable. This is a fine release for a fine film. Recommended !