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Island In The Sky (Special Collector's Edition)

John Wayne , Lloyd Nolan , William A. Wellman    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Island In The Sky (Special Collector's Edition) + The High and the Mighty (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) + John Wayne War Collection: 4 Film Favorites - They Were Expendable / Operation Pacific / Flying Leathernecks / Back to Bataan
Price For All Three: CDN$ 38.65

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Product Description


Out of circulation for a quarter-century following the death of producer-star John Wayne, Island in the Sky is a tale of survival focused on the pilot (Wayne) and crew of a DC-3 forced to crashland somewhere in the uncharted Canadian wilderness, and the fellow airmen (Lloyd Nolan, James Arness, Andy Devine, Paul Fix) determined to find them before hunger and the 70-below winter do them in. The movie, set in the post-WWII era when military and commercial aviation were still intertwined, was written by bestselling novelist Ernest K. Gann and directed by William A. Wellman, an aviation-movie veteran whose Wings won the first-ever Academy Award (1927–28).

Wellman resolutely downplays the histrionics and conventional heroics; Wayne indulges in none of the macho posturing that his detractors carelessly identify him with, and the crewman who breaks rank in a bid for salvation meets a grim, almost mythically absurd demise. But Wellman also condoned (and himself speaks) the ill-advised narration that aims to tell us what's going on inside the stoic characters. The director does better with throwaway details like the ice pick kept handily embedded in a barracks wall so that pilots can break the frozen skin on their morning wash water. And there's a distinctive war council among the search pilots when no one's quite sure what to do next--the wrong decision could doom the missing crew--and so no one looks anybody else in the face. The black-and-white cinematography by Archie Stout (dramatic scenes) and William H. Clothier (flying scenes) leaves nothing to be desired, and in this crisp restoration it sometimes literally glows.

DVD features
The extras include production reminiscences by William Wellman Jr., assistant director Andrew V. McLaglen, and supporting players Darryl Hickman and Harry Carey Jr.; a short essay on the art of aerial cinematography; and an intriguing profile of Ernest K. Gann, who in his teens directed and starred in a motion picture of sorts. Wayne, Wellman, and Gann reteamed to create The High and the Mighty, much nominated for 1954 Oscars. --Richard T. Jameson

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars and they DID'NT get a nomination? March 27 2006
By A Customer
This was a great movie for seeing John Wayne and Andy Devine truly act and not re-perform the characters that they are famous for. For me, this film is better than the "High and the Mighty". Even thought there are some sappy parts, they are kept to a minimum. The story is tight, with a strong focus on the men on the ground and in the air. You really get the idea that the snow bound men are scared, and the searchers are dog weary but neither of them are willing to quit.
Also listen to the commentary about the story that this movie is based (14 men, some wounded, stranded for 60 days and no deaths)! Why haven't anybody tried to make a movie out of that, I don't know.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Island In The Sky Feb. 27 2012
By Watcher
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Island In The Sky, is a good old classic. Based in the north, it shows what it was like during those olden days of flying and just how dangerous it was. And how some
never made it home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie Aug. 25 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Love John Wayne. The story was very interesting and different for John Wayne. Enjoyed it very much. Passed it on to another John Wayne's fan
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5.0 out of 5 stars Based on a true story June 18 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Based on a true story by Ernest K. Gann This tale shows John Wayne in a persona seldom before seen in movies, and only to be repeated, as far as I know, in "The High and the Mighty". The setting for the story is wartime (War 2) when transports, poorly equipped with navigation aids, often flown by unmilitary ex-airline pilots, returned to the US by hopping from Scotland to Iceland to Greenland to Presque Isle in Maine.in horrendous weather and wartime imperatives. Or the other way, for that matter - then the search was often pointless if a plane went down from heavy icing into an unforgiving and frigid Atlantic. At the best of times these heroes made their way without incident only to turn around and do it again. At the worst of times they often got lost, ran out of fuel and either were lucky enough to find a convenient Labrador lake to put down on or crashed and died of freezing, starvation or despair. I was fortunate to spend some time after the war in Search and Rescue in the area and we were still finding and investigating the remains of wrecks that took years, sometimes decades to turn up Sometimes they jumped over Goose Bay and let the plane go on auto pilot; often they were not so fortunate.

This a black and white 1951 movie that was overshadowed the technicolor "The High and the Mighty" next year. Despite seven nominations of the Oscar, it won only one for the music. It certainly should have won more.

Knowing the area like the back of my hand, the portrayal of the bleak and barren country was accurate - except for some unlikely high mountains and a temperature of 70 degrees below zero F. After all, the location used was the Sierras but in spite of that, much of the ground scenes were amazingly like northern Labrador and Quebec.
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