Flight From Ashiya


1h 40m 1964

Brief Synopsis

A rescue service goes after a sinking cargo ship off the Japanese coast.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ashiya Kara no hiko
Genre
Action
Adventure
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Mar 1964
Production Company
Daiei Motion Picture Co.; Harold Hecht Films
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
Japan
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Flight From Ashiya by Elliott Arnold (New York, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Sgt. Mike Takashima, Col. Glenn Stevenson, and Lieut. John Gregg, all members of the U. S. Air Force Rescue Service at Ashiya, Japan, set out to rescue the survivors of a Japanese ship wrecked in a still-raging storm. As they fly to the site of the wreck, each man recalls a part of his past: Gregg remembers the avalanche caused when his helicopter came too close to a mountain. The avalanche subsequently buried alive the group of people whom he was attempting to rescue. The accident has since caused him to fear flying solo. Stevenson, deeply prejudiced against the Japanese, recalls the reason for his hatred: as a civilian pilot in the Philippines prior to World War II, he met and married Caroline Gordon. She and their infant son later died in a Japanese prison camp when they were refused medical supplies which were being saved for Japanese soldiers. Takashima, half-American, half-Japanese, reminisces about his tragic love affair with Leila, an Algerian girl, during World War II. He was unable to stop the blowing up of a bridge where Leila had run to look for him after learning that his unit was being withdrawn from town. When one air rescue plane crashes while attempting to land in the treacherous seas, Stevenson refuses to jeopardize his plane for Japanese lives. At the last minute, however, he recalls Caroline's dying plea not to hate; he overcomes his prejudice and orders Takashima to parachute to the liferafts with rescue equipment. He and Gregg then land the plane at sea and rescue the survivors, but when Stevenson is injured in the landing, Gregg is forced to overcome his fear and handle the dangerous takeoff and the flight back to Ashiya.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ashiya Kara no hiko
Genre
Action
Adventure
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Mar 1964
Production Company
Daiei Motion Picture Co.; Harold Hecht Films
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
Japan
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Flight From Ashiya by Elliott Arnold (New York, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Flight From Ashiya


Conceived and executed as a salute to the Air Rescue Service subcommand of the U.S. Air Force, the independent U.S.-Japan co-production Flight from Ashiya (1964) has become something of a forgotten item over the last few generations. While somewhat stodgy in delivering its story, the film benefits from charismatic efforts on the part of its leads, and nicely executed special effects from the Japanese production teams in rendering the key sequence of peril.

Producer Harold Hecht put together an impressive team to bring the story home, placing Michael Anderson (Around the World in 80 Days [1956]) in the director's chair and teaming Waldo Salt with author Elliott Arnold to adapt Arnold's 1958 novel to the screen. The contemporary narrative is set at the USAF's base in Ashiya, Japan, where crews are being rallied to fly out and rescue the survivors of a Japanese freighter that foundered in a typhoon. Upper-echelon Col. Glenn Stevenson (Richard Widmark) volunteers to co-pilot for the short-handed mission, much to the chagrin of lead pilot Lt. John Gregg (George Chakiris). Also on hand for the flight is the Japanese-Polish paramedic out of Detroit, Sgt. Mike Takashima (Yul Brynner).

As the flight approaches the hazard zone, we're flashed back to Germany in 1954, and the audience learns what underlies Gregg's unease with Stevenson. The colonel was overseeing the then-raw pilot on a Red Cross run over the Alps, when they encountered several dozen blizzard-trapped villagers on high ground. Gregg can't cope with the fact that they can only carry a few, and Stevenson has no sympathy for his being forced to make choices. Although Gregg gamely signs on for a return trip to the site, on their arrival the rescue copter's rotors start an avalanche that buries those who had waited.

In the present, one of the mission's planes breaks up on its approach to the ocean surface, and Stevenson is loath to risk the lives of his crew for the raftful of freighter survivors. The colonel's reluctance, as well as his enduring short fuse with Takashima, are now explored in his flashback, which takes us to Manila, 1941. Stevenson, running his own small air freight operation, makes the acquaintance of an attractive and gutsy reporter named Caroline Gordon (Shirley Knight). While they enjoy a whirlwind courtship, the outbreak of war breaks their idyll; interred in a Japanese POW camp, Caroline loses their unborn child and subsequently dies when the commandant refuses to divert the necessary medical treatment.

Back to the present day, where Stevenson remembers his wife's dying plea not to give in to hatred, and allows Takashima to parachute down to affect the rescue. The paramedic's recklessness is visited via a flashback to Tunisia in 1942, where the young paratrooper began a mutual and ultimately tragic infatuation with a lovely Algerian Muslim named Leila (Daniele Gaubert).

Widmark is effective as always in conveying the anger and anguish underlying his character's intensity, and while Brynner's casting might have pushed his indeterminate ethnicity to its limit, he brings to the role the expected sly charm. Period supermodel Suzy Parker was given little to do but look attractive as the company clerk pining for Brynner's safe return. The attractive model-starlet Gaubert made sporadic films through Snow Job (1972), a vehicle for her new husband, Olympic ski champ Jean-Claude Killy; they remained together until her untimely death from cancer in 1987.

Director: Michael Anderson
Screenplay: Waldo Salt, Elliott Arnold (novel too)
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey, Joseph MacDonald
Art Direction: Tomoo Shimogawara
Music: Frank Cordell
Film Editing: Gordon Pilkington
Cast: Yul Brynner (TSgt. Mike Takashima), Richard Widmark (Lt. Col. Glenn Stevenson), George Chakiris (2nd Lt. John Gregg), Suzy Parker (Lucille Caroll), Shirley Knight (Caroline Gordon/Stevenson), Joe Di Reda (SSgt. Randy Smith), Mitsuhiro Sugiyama (Charlie).
C-102m. Letterboxed.

by Jay S. Steinberg
Flight From Ashiya

Flight From Ashiya

Conceived and executed as a salute to the Air Rescue Service subcommand of the U.S. Air Force, the independent U.S.-Japan co-production Flight from Ashiya (1964) has become something of a forgotten item over the last few generations. While somewhat stodgy in delivering its story, the film benefits from charismatic efforts on the part of its leads, and nicely executed special effects from the Japanese production teams in rendering the key sequence of peril. Producer Harold Hecht put together an impressive team to bring the story home, placing Michael Anderson (Around the World in 80 Days [1956]) in the director's chair and teaming Waldo Salt with author Elliott Arnold to adapt Arnold's 1958 novel to the screen. The contemporary narrative is set at the USAF's base in Ashiya, Japan, where crews are being rallied to fly out and rescue the survivors of a Japanese freighter that foundered in a typhoon. Upper-echelon Col. Glenn Stevenson (Richard Widmark) volunteers to co-pilot for the short-handed mission, much to the chagrin of lead pilot Lt. John Gregg (George Chakiris). Also on hand for the flight is the Japanese-Polish paramedic out of Detroit, Sgt. Mike Takashima (Yul Brynner). As the flight approaches the hazard zone, we're flashed back to Germany in 1954, and the audience learns what underlies Gregg's unease with Stevenson. The colonel was overseeing the then-raw pilot on a Red Cross run over the Alps, when they encountered several dozen blizzard-trapped villagers on high ground. Gregg can't cope with the fact that they can only carry a few, and Stevenson has no sympathy for his being forced to make choices. Although Gregg gamely signs on for a return trip to the site, on their arrival the rescue copter's rotors start an avalanche that buries those who had waited. In the present, one of the mission's planes breaks up on its approach to the ocean surface, and Stevenson is loath to risk the lives of his crew for the raftful of freighter survivors. The colonel's reluctance, as well as his enduring short fuse with Takashima, are now explored in his flashback, which takes us to Manila, 1941. Stevenson, running his own small air freight operation, makes the acquaintance of an attractive and gutsy reporter named Caroline Gordon (Shirley Knight). While they enjoy a whirlwind courtship, the outbreak of war breaks their idyll; interred in a Japanese POW camp, Caroline loses their unborn child and subsequently dies when the commandant refuses to divert the necessary medical treatment. Back to the present day, where Stevenson remembers his wife's dying plea not to give in to hatred, and allows Takashima to parachute down to affect the rescue. The paramedic's recklessness is visited via a flashback to Tunisia in 1942, where the young paratrooper began a mutual and ultimately tragic infatuation with a lovely Algerian Muslim named Leila (Daniele Gaubert). Widmark is effective as always in conveying the anger and anguish underlying his character's intensity, and while Brynner's casting might have pushed his indeterminate ethnicity to its limit, he brings to the role the expected sly charm. Period supermodel Suzy Parker was given little to do but look attractive as the company clerk pining for Brynner's safe return. The attractive model-starlet Gaubert made sporadic films through Snow Job (1972), a vehicle for her new husband, Olympic ski champ Jean-Claude Killy; they remained together until her untimely death from cancer in 1987. Director: Michael Anderson Screenplay: Waldo Salt, Elliott Arnold (novel too) Cinematography: Burnett Guffey, Joseph MacDonald Art Direction: Tomoo Shimogawara Music: Frank Cordell Film Editing: Gordon Pilkington Cast: Yul Brynner (TSgt. Mike Takashima), Richard Widmark (Lt. Col. Glenn Stevenson), George Chakiris (2nd Lt. John Gregg), Suzy Parker (Lucille Caroll), Shirley Knight (Caroline Gordon/Stevenson), Joe Di Reda (SSgt. Randy Smith), Mitsuhiro Sugiyama (Charlie). C-102m. Letterboxed. by Jay S. Steinberg

Quotes

Mike Takashima... father Japanese, mother Polish.
- Sergeant Mike Takashima
My father was a Buddhist, my mother a Seventh-day Adventist.
- Sergeant Mike Takashima

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in the Japanese cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Tachikawa. Produced in Japan in 1963 as Ashiya Kara no Hiko.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1964

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1964