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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 1. March 4, 1953

'The Sound Barrier'

'The Sound Barrier'

Lean has imagined the div-climbing and spinning manoeuvres of the De Havilland Vampires as "steps of a modern screen ballet." The sight of these jets—"the beauty and ease of their gliding flight, vapour peeling off wing-tips at the end of a dive"—Lean admits gave him almost sensuous pleasure. The spirit of exploration and adventure has enthused Lean to produce an adventurous and exciting film. At least it is when he takes us off the ground.

The trouble is the paying public would not be content with merely an air pageant. A story must be provided, and this is where "The Sound Barrier" falls down. Terence Rattigan, the script-writer, has given us rather enventional film characters struggling with a rather conventional fate or destiny. We have Ralph Richardson as the misunderstood "Jet magnate." Nigel Patrick as the unimaginative test pilot. Ann Todd as his harrassed wife and John Tustin as the test pilot with a flair. I suppose these four actors do their best to make their parts convincing or even interesting, but I can report only a 50 per cent, success rate. Nigel Patrick is too unimaginatively the unimaginative pilot: Ann Todd's performance is thin. But Tustin played a not too difficult part well and Ralph Richardson is magnificent. With careful restraint, he gives the most moving display of fine film acting that I've seen since I first saw him in pictures.

Fine efforts. Messrs. Lean and Richardson; Especially Mr. Lean. If there we ever any barriers to break in the development of the film, he is sure to be amongst the first to get through.

Grading: ****(*).