In ‘The High and the Mighty’ John Wayne takes a long flight to nowhere

[rating=2]Starring: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Laraine Day, Robert Stack, Jan Sterling, Phil Harris, Robert Newton, David Brian, Paul Kelly, Sidney Blackmer, Doe Avedon, Karen Sharpe, John Smith
Director(s): William A. Wellman
Writer(s): Ernest K. Gann

John Wayne stars with William Campbell in 'The High and the Mighty'
John Wayne stars with William Campbell in ‘The High and the Mighty’

This was the second of the John Wayne films I had elected to review recently, and while The High and the Mighty was more familiar to people than Island in the Sky, I think it pales in comparison.

The High and the Mighty is very much like an Irwin Allen disaster flick, but nothing much happens. It’s largely a series of conversations, only a few of them interesting, as each person on the plane deals with the possibly of dying.

Read moreIn ‘The High and the Mighty’ John Wayne takes a long flight to nowhere

John Wayne sours in ‘Island in the Sky’

[rating=3]Starring: John Wayne, Lloyd Nolan, Walter Abel, James Arness, Andy Devine, Harry Carey, Jr.
Director(s): William A. Wellman
Writer(s): Ernest K. Gann

John Wayne (left) headlines 'Island in the Sky'
John Wayne (left) headlines ‘Island in the Sky’

In the last few years I’ve developed a real respect for John Wayne films. The stories are often good, and while Wayne generally plays the same character, there are enough slight variations on the theme to keep it interesting.

What drew me to want to review Island in the Skywas the idea that it had never been released on VHS or DVD. Part of the recent slew of special edition DVDs — fully restored and looking beautiful — that have come out in the last month for Wayne’s movies, the story seemed intriguing. This old black and white from 1953 features an all-star cast, and while it’s probably a little longer than it needed to be, Sky is a strong feature about survival.

Read moreJohn Wayne sours in ‘Island in the Sky’