Doesn’t Really Get Off The Ground
♦ Tripwire gave editor-in-chief Joel Meadows his flying papers to review David Lean’s restored drama The Sound Barrier
The Sound Barrier
Director: David Lean
Stars: Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick
David Lean was obviously one of the greatest film directors of the 20th century with a CV that included Lawrence of Arabia, Oliver Twist and Doctor Zhivago. The Sound Barrier, released as Breaking The Sound Barrier back in 1952, is a fictionalised account of British engineers and their attempts to break the sound barrier and it has been restored to make its debut on Blu Ray. With a script by Terrence Rattigan (The Winslow Boy) and a cast that includes such British cinema stalwarts as Ralph Richardson, Nigel Patrick and even a young Denholm Eliott, The Sound Barrier is not a great film as it does fall into the same formula as many other British films of the same vintage. Nigel Patrick is ace pilot Tony Garthwaite who marries his fellow air ace sweetheart Susan (Ann Todd). Susan just happens to be the daughter of John Ridgefield (Ralph Richardson), a man who runs a huge aircraft company determined to break the sound barrier ahead of his competitors. Of course, you know that Tony isn’t destined for a long life as he takes part in the perilous trials of the cutting edge airplanes that Ridgefield is attempting to develop.
Lean was a director who knew how to make things look good and the aerial scenes are beautiful and certain members of the cast like Richardson, who was always a cut above, help to lift the film but this is the definition of a curio, a minor work by a very talented director. It is worth watching for fans of David Lean but it lacks the grandeur and the confidence of his more important films.
The Sound Barrier is out from 11 April on Blu Ray and DVD in the UK.