Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1950s Sound Barrier, The (1952)

Sound Barrier, The (1952)

Ralph Richardson plays J.R. (no, not that one!), the head of an aircraft manufacturing empire who is willing to sacrifice everything for his quest to break the sound barrier.

His daughter Susan (Ann Todd) marries Tony Garthwaite (Nigel Patrick), an ex-RAF man who goes to work as a test pilot flying the new supersonic “Prometheus” (actually a Vickers-Supermarine Swift) for the old man. Tony is a nice fellow but without many brains.

Unfortunately, Tony bites the dust and the story switches to fellow pilot Philip Peel (John Justin), who takes over on the quest to crack the sound barrier.

The film has a technically happy ending: the breakthrough is accomplished and Susan – who has lost both her brother and her husband to the quest – finally realises that her single-minded father suffers like herself from the tragic consequences of his dream for a new air ear.

But there is no feeling that anything is completed. Instead, the end of the film leaves us with a sense of widening vistas and of accomplishment that is just getting started.

The Ridgefield aero company was loosely based on the famous plane maker de Havilland.

It’s not recorded how Chuck Yeager felt about the film . . .

John “J.R.” Ridgefield
Ralph Richardson
Susan Garthwaite
Ann Todd
Tony Garthwaite
Nigel Patrick
Philip Peel
John Justin
Jess Peel
Dinah Sheridan
Will Sparks
Joseph Tomelty
Christopher Ridgefield
Denholm Elliott
‘Windy’ Williams
Jack Allen
Fletcher
Ralph Michael
Controllers
Douglas Muir
Leslie Phillips

Director
David Lean