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FLASHBACK TO WARNER'S AIRLINE DISASTER 'THE CROWDED SKY'

Title: THE CROWDED SKY Year: 1960 Rating: ****

In one of the most bizarre airplane disaster films, Dana Andrews, fresh from playing the original Ted Stryker in ZERO HOUR that, decades later, became AIRPLANE, flies again, only this time on purpose as his commercial jet and its passengers are juxtaposed by two Navy men on a peace-time 1960 jet-fighter mission to Washington D. C. simply because the youngest, Troy Donahue, needs to see his girl...

Meanwhile Navy lifer Efrem Zimbalist Jr is tumbling from a bad marriage with Technicolor Queen Rhonda Fleming, second-billed despite never boarding either the big or small destined-to-collide vehicle but given sporadic flashbacks (featuring sulky daughter Karen Green) from her husband's winsome reveries...

Artwork to THE CROWDED SKY

Hence THE CROWDED SKY is full of pilot/passenger daydreams with audible thoughts ranging from a Hollywood scriptwriter seducing a woman he'd previously seduced to a casting agent annoyed by a whining method actor... 

Yet the central romance belongs to Dana's co-pilot John Kerr, too young to have flown a million miles with Dana's middle-aged by-the-book Captain Dick Barnett (both entertained by jokey navigator Joe Mantell), and Kerr's girlfriend, former wild girl turned affable stewardess Anne Francis, deserves much better...

John Kerr and Joe Mantell in THE CROWDED SKY with Dana Andrews

As for the big picture, CROWDED didn't quite soar for Warner Brothers (even negatively referenced in FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN), which soon after divided into Warner Seven Arts and never regained their original classic appeal... Sadly, and quite literally, the SKY was the limit...

But for either the rabid cult or curious mainstream viewer, to experience a gutsy, one-of-a-kind hybrid of Douglas Sirk-style Harlequin melodrama (directed by episodically-inclined Joseph Pevney) with a suspenseful 11th hour crash-landing makes for a perfect time-filling movie onboard an otherwise turbulent flight.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in THE CROWDED SKY

John Kerr slugs Dana Andrews in THE CROWDED SKY
Troy Donahue in the first scene from THE CROWDED SKY
Jean Willes gets the willies from Keenan Wynn in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in THE CROWDED SKY with Rhonda Fleming
Dana Andrews plays chief pilot in THE CROWDED SKY
Dana Andrews plays chief pilot in THE CROWDED SKY
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in THE CROWDED SKY with Rhonda Fleming
Actor and Agent Tom Gilson and Patsy Kelly in THE CROWDED SKY
Anne Francis and Dana Andrews in THE CROWDED SKY
Anne Francis and John Kerr in THE CROWDED SKY
Anne Francis in The Crowded Sky
Karen Green looks up to father Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in The Crowded Sky
Karen Green in The Crowded Sky
Anne Francis in The Crowded Sky
Rhonda Fleming from a lobby card ala The Crowded Sky
Zimbalist and Donahue's vehicle in The Crowded Sky
John Kerr with Joe Mantell and Dana Andrews in The Crowded Sky
Anne Francis and John Kerr in The Crowded Sky
Warner Brothers presents The Crowded Sky
Warner Brothers presents The Crowded Sky
The Crowded Sky cast Saundra Edwards and Tom Gilson were married until she killed him
The final Warner Brothers big feature for THE CROWDED SKY

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