Thursday, May 25, 2006

The High and the Mighty

I happened to catch the 1954 John Wayne movie The High and the Mighty on TV last night. I was intrigued by the portrayal of Catholics in it, especially compared with the current attitudes coming out of Hollywood.

It was the first of the airline disaster films, and there's a long period in which the fate of the airliner and its passengers is in question (at least, as much as it could be with JW on board).

One of the passengers, a poor Italian fisherman from San Francisco, pulls out his rosary and begins to pray, first silently, then quietly aloud; when his seatmate asks him exasperatedly, "Do you have to do that?" he just answers, "Yeah." Later, he greets his family at the gate: six kids, if I recall. He's the only passenger who prays.

And again, as they pass over a ship at sea, the ship's radio operator, who has been helping track them, steps outside to the railing, makes the sign of the cross, and bows his head.

Very positive portrayals of common people with faith. I wish we had more today -- the portrayals, and the people.

One other thing: in the climactic moments, there's a beautiful shot from above, with the plane silhouetted as it flies down the centerline of the approach lights. Along that centerline, a short distance from the runway, there's a transverse bar of lights -- making a cross. I don't think that was accidental.