Jet Pilot 1957 – John Wayne and Janet Leigh

This is a strange film – in that it commenced filming in December of 1949, was finally completed in May 1951 and yet not released until 1957

Howard Hughes had taken control of RKO Radio Pictures and, as aviation was one of his passions, he worked on this film in great detail over many months, asking for more aerial filming to be done and added, and then he changed the musical score and countless other things came in to the mix. Maybe along the way, he lost a bit of interest in it – no one will ever know.

What a post production process that proved to be taking 6 years until the film was finally released in 1957

I have seen this comment which might explain what happened :-

The reason originally for the delay in release was great strides were being made in aviation post World War II. So he re-shot and re-shot the aviation sequences and then eventually lost interest. Jet Pilot was released seven years after it was originally filmed and by then the planes really looked out of date. 

When you think about it, with an estimated budget of 9 million US Dollars, Hughes would have had some urgency about him to try to recoup some revenue.

ABOVE John Wayne and Janet Leigh in Jet Pilot

Janet Leigh looks so young and attractive in these stills – but then again she was very young – she was 22 when this was made – and very attractive too.

Later, although in Film Release terms earlier, John Wayne was in a big budget aeroplane film this time as an airline pilot in ‘The High and The Mighty’ and this was very successful indeed.

William Wellman’s soap opera in the sky is one the first of the disaster films. John Wayne plays the harried pilot who experiences more than his share of turbulence including jealous husbands and an airliner that is slowly dismantling itself. Claire Trevor, Wayne’s old flame from Stagecoach, is on board along with Robert Stack as The Duke’s nerve-wracked co-pilot. Dimitri Tiomkin’s haunting theme song was nominated for an Oscar.

In this film, as one of the passengers, was one of my favourite actors fresh from Treasure Island and Long John Silver – none other than Robert Newton in a much more restrained role. He never, to me, seemed to excel in the understated roles – he needed more and the role of Long John Silver in Walt Disney’s Treasure Island had given him just that – and he was superb

Robert Newton and Robert Stack
The Pilot John Wayne climbs aboard the airliner
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