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SOARING MELODRAMA OF 'THE CROWDED SKY' W/ DANA ANDREWS

Efem Zimbalist Jr and Karen Green YEAR: 1960
Now this is an "entirely different kind of flying, altogether..." A classic line, not only from the 1980 comedy AIRPLANE but its low-budget predecessor, ZERO HOUR...

Dana Andrews as Dick
And you'd think Dana Andrews, the original Ted Stryker taken over more famously by Robert Hays but spelled Striker, had learned to stay clear of THE CROWDED SKY – but it's ingrained, from returning from Korea in THE FEARMAKERS; heading to England in CURSE OF THE DEMON; and suffering memories in the Post-War drama THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (or dying on a runway plane in MY FOOLISH HEART), he had a cinematic penchant for taking to the skies...

The Crowded Score: ***1/2
And now Dana's commercial pilot is headed towards jet fighter Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Troy Donahue.

And by the 11th hour, both big and small plane will meet (which would be opposite in AIRPORT 1975 where Dana flies the unpredictable, totally unexpected small plane and Efrem the commercial passenger plane). But this is much different than most aerial disaster flicks that began with THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, that this movie purposefully compared itself to. Before the inevitable, nail-biting finale, THE CROWDED SKY plays out not only like miles-high melodrama/soap opera, it spends around 75% of its time in each of the central character's (passengers and crew members) narrating, reflecting, reposeful minds while basking upon their troubles, romances, and even a little happiness (AIRPLANE too had many flashbacks)...

Efrem Zimbalist Jr and Dana Andrews converge
Keenan Wynn climbs aboard
Beginning with a close-up on Karen Green as Efrem's pre-teen daughter, who prefers her tall military dad to narcissistic mom, Rhonda Fleming...

Other flashbacks include a "He Thinks, She Thinks" of our two young buried leads: grouchy "jerk boyfriend" co-pilot played by John Kerr and blonde stewardess Anne Francis (her and Dana Andrews would return five years later as unhappy marrieds in William Conrad's neo noir BRAINSTORM! and the same year he's her friendly dad in THE SATAN BUG)...

Book cover looks like Dana Andrews
The most annoying stories don't include a visual aid, punctuating their overall insignificance — those being: a shunned, slightly-older gal seated beside a suave (not handsome) Hollywood player, letting him woo her and, as we do hear her thoughts, learning they once had a one night stand while he doesn't recognize her at all...

Anne Francis as Kitty Foster
Also on board is an awkward businessman finding the right amount of guts to address a middle-aged plump woman; and a nervous method acting James Dean type attempting to persuade a Yenta agent to represent him. "I can't feel fear... I've never been afraid in my life," he whines...

A forced harbinger of what's to come, and Dana Andrews goes right back to his ZERO HOUR dead-serious mode, keeping his edge and prowess this time around: At which point the near-catastrophe is an existential break following all those memories and reveries — some intriguing, others draining, taking more than half the movie from the present time — all an intricate piece of a bizarre cinematic puzzle that, despite the abundance of camp value, is an original spin on the plane-in-peril subdivision of the overall disaster film genre, and one that Dana Andrews is a patron saint of — and very few realize it.
A scene that's not in the movie of Zimbalist and Fleming's wedding party The Crowded Sky Lobby Card
Troy Donahue and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Rhonda Fleming in THE CROWDED SKY
Cute as a button Karen Green in THE CROWDED SKY
Never Say Die with Troy Donahue and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Rhonda Fleming in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Rhonda Fleming in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Rhonda Fleming in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Rhonda Fleming in THE CROWDED SKY
Jean Willes and Keenan Wynn in THE CROWDED SKY
Anne Francis as the "ex tramp of tramps" in THE CROWDED SKY
Louis Quinn and Hollis Irving in THE CROWDED SKY
Some of the quick flashbacks are pretty great... looking, like Rhonda Fleming in THE CROWDED SKY
Nothing cooler than a late 50's early 60's fighter jet, no matter what the stinkin' hippies think
Anne Francis and Dana Andrews in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews propels greatness in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews in THE CROWDED SKY with Joe Mantell and John Kerr
Dana Andrews slips into reverie in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews in THE CROWDED SKY with Joe Mantell and John Kerr
Dana Andrews in THE CROWDED SKY with Joe Mantell
Tory Donahuw sealing his fate stubbornly in THE CROWDED SKY
Rhonda Fleming lures her divorced husband to bed in THE CROWDED SKY
Karen Green looks up to father Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in The Crowded Sky
Karen Green looks up to father Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in The Crowded Sky
The Third Man actor Warren Parker and Dana Andrews in The Crowded Sky
Keenan Wynn as a "phony Britishness" screenplay writer in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews and future Hot Rods to Hell traffic cop Paul Genge in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews as Captain Dick Barnett in THE CROWDED SKY
Tom Gilson as wannabe actor and Patsy Kelly as real agent in THE CROWDED SKY
Shot of a shooting shot of Washington DC from THE CROWDED SKY
1) Movie viewpoint of John Kerr punching Dana Andrews in The Crowded Sky compared with...
2) The Lobby Card Viewpoint of the same moment but probably from the Still Photographer
Troy Donahue gets the rules by Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in The Crowded Sky
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Dale Heath in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. with cute daughter Karen Green in THE CROWDED SKY
Lobby card featuring Troy Donahue signing up for his fate in THE CROWDED SKY
Like GIANT but the pilot forces his son on an amusement park airplane THE CROWDED SKY
Nan Leslie and Dana Andrews husband and wife in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews and Nan Leslie step on each others lives but is saved in The Crowded Sky
The Empty Ground Efrem Zimbalist Jr. walks on in THE CROWDED SKY
Tom Gilson and Patsy Kelly in THE CROWDED SKY
Anne Francis and John Kerr in THE CROWDED SKY
Anne Francis and John Kerr in THE CROWDED SKY

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