Breaking the Sound Barrier


Action / Drama / Romance / War


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April 19, 2016 at 06:05 AM



Denholm Elliott as Christopher Ridgefield
Leslie Phillips as Controller
Ralph Richardson as John Ridgefield
720p 1080p
819.18 MB
24 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 1 / 2
1.74 GB
24 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 2 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by george7096 8 / 10

A haunting memory

I saw "The Sound Barrier" in 1952 and it had a great impact on this young moviegoer. The opening sequence on an abandoned air base and the theme music have stayed with me for 50 years. Apparently this film is not available in the USA at present, but I hope it will return to our shores. The technical side of the movie may be less relevant now, when men and women fly far beyond the speed of sound and far beyond the earth's atmosphere. But the story of the characters is what I remember best: the closeness of the small band of test pilots and their loved ones, how they are inspired by the promise of supersonic flight, and how they react when things go wrong.

Reviewed by ianlouisiana 9 / 10

Heralding the false dawn of a New Elizabethan age

Imagine the sky,cloudless,deep blue as only at the height of an English summer,stretching from horizon to horizon.A small boy about 12 years old is happily searching rockpools left at low tide on a south coast beach.A shadow flashes across him,followed by a deep roaring sound.He looks up and spots a pencil-slim red jet plane disappearing into the distance followed shortly by the familiar "double boom" that signalled the breaking of the sound barrier.He lowers his fishing net and shields his eyes against the sun as the plane returns for another low-ceiling run over the sea.It could be the pre-title sequence for a movie about the perils of high-speed flight,but,in fact,the small boy was me,and I had just watched one of my heroes(the other one was Stanley Matthews) Squadron Leader Neville Duke regaining the world air speed record. Those were heady days to be a young Briton.The recent coronation of the lovely Queen Elizabeth the second,the climbing of Mount Everest,the end of the war in Korea - all these events combined to create a huge air of optimism.There was even a children's magazine called "The New Elizabethan" with no articles about how to avoid getting pregnant at 12 years of age(without being at all judgemental of course),how to spot dodgy "Ecstasy" tablets or how to get a start in modelling.To us modelling meant making planes from balsa wood.Moss and Campbell meant Stirling and Malcolm,reassuringly British names. No one calls the post 1952 era the Elizabethan age any more.Starting with Macmillan,the era became associated with the names of politicians,culminating with our present Dear Leader.It is becoming increasingly likely that history will remember only one Elizabethan Age,and it won't be this one. But it all could have been so different.The land fit for heroes didn't have to become the land fit for nothing,it just sort of happened without anybody noticing.Courage,self-sacrifice,idealism,patriotism and the pioneering spirit became merely the stuff of "sophisticated" comedy. "The Sound Barrier",demonstrably lauding all these attributes,could never get made in this brave new century. Somehow it has become "racist" to love your country,"elitist" to want to set high goals and achieve them.The men who flew jet lanes in the early post-war years were racist and elitist by modern definition. They had fought in a war(albeit against fascism)which made them post-imperialist dupes at the very least.And(worst sin of all) were mostly middle-class public school/boarding school products. Mr Nigel Patrick and Mr Denholm Elliot very accurately reflect this. A test pilot didn't climb into his cockpit,turn to his groundcrew chief and say"Gawd bless you governor,you've got a lucky fice",he really didn't.If you have a problem with that,then I suggest you watch "Top Gun" or "Officer and a Gentleman" and see how our more egalitarian American allies do things.Then think of what happened to them in Vietnam without a traditional Officer Class to lead their troops. Back in the days when "Flight" and "The Aeroplane" were staple reading for schoolboys,it was taken for granted that "breaking the sound barrier" was an essential first step towards space flight - that panacea-like dream of the 1950s.That proved to be correct and the first astronauts were beholden to men like Chuck Yeager whose courage was recognised in "The Right Stuff",albeit in a post-modern ironic sort of way.The British supersonic flight programme rather petered out in comparison,due possibly to lack of will and vision,but more probably,lack of money."The Sound Barrier" is its filmed legacy. The late Squadron Leader Duke was a man of high courage.A few months before his record breaking flight over the Sussex beaches a ,De Havilland 110,piloted by John Derry who had flown a Mosquito filming aerial views of Paris for "The Sound Barrier" broke up in supersonic flight at the Farnborough Air show,its wreckage causing many casualties in the crowd,which included David Lean and Ann Todd.In the deadly hush that followed,he walked out to his plane and took off.Flying low over the Hampshire hills,he banked round to the aerodrome and began his pass.The Hunter screamed over the runway and climbed rapidly,the resulting sonic boom offering a fitting tribute to his fallen colleagues and all the victims of man's restless urge to leave the confines of the Earth.

Reviewed by Robert J. Maxwell ([email protected]) 8 / 10

Excellent film, technically ludicrous

You can't help comparing this to "The Right Stuff," particularly the sections that deal with Chuck Yeager's exploits. This movie stands up at least as well as the more expensive epic based on Tom Wolf's book, although "Breaking the Sound Barrier" is in black and white, virtually without special effects, and characterized not by arguments and competition, but by stiff upper-lipness and British taciturnity.

Ralph Richardson plays the head of an aircraft manufacturing empire. His effete but game son feels compelled to become a flier because that's what the rigid Richardson seems to expect of him. End of son, played by a surprisingly undebauched looking Denholm Elliot.

Richardson has a daughter too, Ann Todd. She marries a test pilot, Nigel Patrick, "not of your level," who is given a job flying new jets for Richardson's company. She wants them and their baby to have their own place and leave Richardson's house. "You must have noticed the distance between father and me," she confesses. "He's always resented me for not being a son." Patrick hasn't noticed. And at least one viewer (ie., me) had to think over earlier scenes to pick up on the hints. The Brits are like American Southerners, adept at reading others' emotional states from the smallest indications, and women are better at it than men.

The director and writer -- David Lean and Terrence Rattigan -- pull a fast one on us two thirds of the way through. Owing nothing to Hitchcock's "Psycho" they kill off the protagonist and leave us gaping , the way Patrick leaves an untidy hole gaping in what appears to be an astonishingly tidy farm field, a bit of smoking wreckage scattered about.

Patrick's friend and fellow pilot takes over the final mission to crack the sound barrier. The solution to the problem is too simple to be taken seriously but at any rate the pilot survives. An hour later, alone in a room, he begins giggling hysterically and turns to sobbing. Ya'd never see somethin' like that in an American movie like "The Right Stuff." Sobbin' is fer wimmin.

But at least Richardson's humanity and horror and anguish are revealed when his daughter visits him more or less by accident. The final test is in progress and the radio transmissions are being piped into Richardson's office. "Forty-seven thousand now," says the pilot. "I'm taking her down for a final run." Richardson and Todd have had a brief argument and she is about to storm out when he begs her, "Please don't go! Don't leave me alone!" The human feeta clay after all.

I want to emphasize that there are some novel techniques on view here. In 1950, when this was shot, jet propulsion was still something of a novelty. People didn't know what made jet engines go, and they had never heard of a sound barrier. So it comes as a surprise when we see a tiny object in the distance. It is a jet plane and is speeding towards us. But -- there is no SOUND. Its image looms larger on the screen until it is almost overhead and then -- WHOOSH. And we can figure out that there is no noise ahead of the aircraft because it is traveling almost as fast as the noise itself.

There are two plane crashes. In any modern action flick they call for an enormous fireball of an explosion. But not here. One airplane, a fragile biplane, tumbles to earth and comes to rest tail up, seemingly in pretty good shape. The camera stays at a distance as people rush across the field towards the wreck. Then we see a wisp of oily smoke. Then billows of it, and then flame, and we realize that the pilot we thought was safe is now doomed. And Lean cuts from the other pilot to a distant office just before the crash. We not only don't see the crash. We don't even hear it.

There's something else worth mentioning too. "The Right Stuff" at some moments gives us the excitement and the danger of flying but never the exhilarating joy of slipping around noisily in three dimensions. The first opening minutes of "Breaking the Sound Barrier" show us a Spitfire over Dover with a youthful pilot doing aerobatics, and the actor, the director, and the composer let us know exactly how he feels.

Very good movie.

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