To mark the 25th anniversary of David Lean’s death, STUDIOCANAL are re-releasing one of his lesser known films, The Sound Barrier. The film has received restoration by the BFI National Archive in partnership with STUDIOCANAL aided by generous funding from the David Lean Foundation. This edition is being released on 11th April 2016 under the Vintage Classics banner and will be the first time that is has received an outing on Blu-Ray.
The Sound Barrier was first released in 1952 and, as well as directing the film, David Lean also produced the film. Terence Rattigan wrote the screenplay and the film starred Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick, John Justin, Dinah Sheridan and Denholm Elliott amongst others.
The film follows John Ridgefield (Ralph Richardson), who is the wealthy owner of an aircraft manufacturer, whose aim of building a plane that can fly faster than the speed of sound has grown into an obsession. This single-mindedness pushes his son (Denholm Elliott) to try to become a pilot, something that the son has no natural gift for, and eventually results in the death of the son. Ridgefield’s daughter (Ann Todd) marries a WWII fighter ace (Nigel Patrick) who subsequently becomes a test pilot for Ridgefield.
If you like old British movies, that are full of stiff upper-lippery (and Robert certainly does with his own obsession in old British war movies), then this film will be a must-see, particularly as it is so rarely seen with it being over-shadowed by Lean’s masterpieces such as Brief Encounter, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago and The Bridge On The River Kwai. Some of the domestic scenes between Todd and Patrick are not as strong as they perhaps could have been as they lacked a certain passion that you would expect from a newly-wed couple, but this is more than made up for by the aerial scenes and Richardson’s performance as the obsessesive manufacturer who succeeds in pushing his family away before a form of redemption at the end.
Back To The Feature Podcast were lucky enough to receive an advance preview copy of the film so Robert and Marc took it out for a quick test flight.