James Stewart plays aeronautical engineer Theodore Honey, the quintessential absent-minded professor: eccentric, forgetful, but brilliant. His studies show that the aircraft being manufactured by his employer has a subtle but deadly design flaw that manifests itself only after the aircraft has flown a certain number of hours. En route to a crash site to prove his theory, Honey discovers that he is aboard a plane rapidly approaching his predicted deadline.
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Theodore Honey is an aeronautical engineer being sent to Labrador from London to examine the wreckage of a new passenger plane designed by his company. His theory is that the planes are susceptible to metal fatigue after a specific amount of time in the air. The absent minded Honey boards the Reindeer class plane and only realizes that this plane is due to fail in the next few hours after the plane is airborne. He decides to warn the crew and creates an incident regardless of whether he is right or wrong.
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No Highway marks both the reunion film of James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich and Stewart's second film with Henry Koster as director. Stewart never played an intellectual before, but he's quite convincing here as the absent minded aeronautical scientist.nnStewart is a widower who is Rhodes Scholar, an American who decided to stay in Great Britain. He married and had a daughter, but his wife was killed in the blitz and he's raising his daughter in the off-time between his scientific projects.nnHis interpretation of a man who in his grief has just buried himself in his work is very well handled. We first see the way he lives after his new boss Jack Hawkins gives him a lift home. His daughter Janette Scott is a bright little girl, approaching her puberty though and not real well equipped to handle it.nnStewart is convinced that a new type metal alloy used on a new line of aircraft passenger planes will weaken after so many hours of flight and cause crashes. Hawkins urges him to report his suspicions, but the ivory towered Stewart refuses until his scientific calculations have been thoroughly checked out.nnAll of a sudden he gets good and personally involved in his own experiment. He's flying to Newfoundland and learns he's on one of those planes he considers defective. He is a respected scientist and people listen to him, like stewardess Glynis Johns and traveling film star Marlene Dietrich.nnOf course when the tail section does not fall off in the time he thought, Stewart is made the object of ridicule. He disables the same plane he was on which was making a further stop in Montreal. nnI think you can guess where this one is going, but it's a pleasant journey nonetheless. Stewart did in fact another variation of this same character in Dear Brigitte for Henry Koster and with Glynis Johns as his leading lady. Of course that film isn't as good.nnJanette Scott said that during the filming of No Highway, Marlene Dietrich was kind and gracious to her and gave her innumerable pointers on how to act and react before the camera. Stood her in very good stead in Scott's later career.nnPoor Marlene, two films with James Stewart and she didn't get him in either. Of course during Destry Rides Again they were in the midst of a torrid affair and it was a more important film for both of them.nnFor the film is about aircraft design without any derring do heroics, No Highway has no pretensions. Stewart since his service in the Army Air Corps in World War II was a well known advocate of air power and this maybe the best of his films concerning that subject.
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