Top of the World


1h 30m 1955

Brief Synopsis

When he's transferred to Alaska, a brash pilot tries to stop his ex-wife from remarrying.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Action
Adventure
Release Date
May 1955
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Landmark Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Barter Island, Alaska, United States; Ladd Air Force Base, Alaska, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Synopsis

Air Force major Lee Gannon is disappointed when he is reassigned from California to Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska because he is too old to continue flying jets. Gannon resigns himself to the assignment, however, after discovering that his ex-wife Virgie, about whom he is curious despite their bitter divorce, has a nightclub in Fairbanks. During the flight to Ladd, which is the Air Force's northernmost base, Gannon's plane encounters engine trouble and he and the crew are forced to parachute to safety. They are rescued by Maj. Brad Cantrell, the organizer of Operation Deep Freeze, an experimental weather project to which Gannon has been assigned. Upon arriving at the base, Cantrell is met by public relations lieutenant Mary Ross, who is in love with him despite his infatuation with Virgie. The next morning, Cantrell briefs the men on Operation Deep Freeze, which is designed to gather weather data to prepare the military in case of a northern attack by the Soviet Union, and will be established on Ice Island, an immense ice floe near the North Pole. Cantrell is irritated by Gannon's contempt for the project, and advises him to take the weather seriously, as it can be a deadly enemy. Cantrell is also annoyed when Gannon aggressively flirts with Mary, and after Mary informs Cantrell that she cannot wait for him forever, she agrees to go out with Gannon. At her Klondike Club, Virgie is astonished to see Gannon and, begging him to leave her alone, informs him that she intends to marry Cantrell. After he escorts Mary home, Gannon admits that Virgie is his ex-wife, and Mary pesters him for information about her. The next day, Cantrell informs Gannon that he has been promoted to colonel, and Gannon, feeling contrite, goes to Virgie and warns her that he will inform Cantrell about her past if she continues to pursue him. Virgie then asserts that she regrets her past mistakes and wants to remarry him, but Gannon storms out. The next morning, Cantrell puts Gannon in charge of the operation and assigns Lt. Skippy McGuire, Capt. Harding, Capt. Cochrane, Lt. Johnson and M/Sgt. Cappi as his crew. Gannon and his men fly to the island and establish their camp, where they will live for six weeks. Back at Ladd, Cantrell informs Mary that he is going to marry Virgie, and she gives him an affidavit left by Gannon. Cantrell then confronts Virgie about the affidavit, which states that after a whirlwind courtship in London during World War II, Virgie and Gannon married. Virgie gave birth to their baby girl after Gannon was shot down over Germany, and when he returned home, he learned that the baby was dead and that Virgie was with another man. Through her tears, Virgie tells Cantrell that she was informed about Gannon's presumed death while she was in labor, and that after the baby's birth, she was so distraught that she attempted suicide. The baby was forcibly taken from her and killed in an air raid, and although Virgie told Gannon about the circumstances when he returned, he refused to believe her. Destroying the affidavit, Cantrell assures Virgie that he still wants to marry her. Meanwhile, Gannon and his crew suffer through a fierce storm at the camp, and Cantrell realizes that it has been more than thirty-six hours since their last contact. The men grow worried when the ice floe begins breaking up and the generator is demolished. Their plane falls into the water, and as more ice breaks up, Gannon worries that there will no longer be the 1,500 feet required by Ladd's C-47 planes for a runway. Cantrell soon sends rescue planes to search for the men, and upon finding them, the planes drop supplies and a radio. Gannon informs Cantrell that there is not enough room for a plane to land, and, unable to get a helicopter in time, Cantrell orders a C-47 to take a glider to the island. Virgie enters the radio room as Gannon states that they are losing more ice every hour and may not have enough room for the glider to land when it arrives in nine hours. Virgie accuses Cantrell of sending Gannon on the dangerous mission to get him away from her, and he realizes that Virgie still loves Gannon. She admits that she will always love her ex-husband, and Cantrell decides to take over as the glider's pilot in order to assure that Gannon returns to her. With only 550 feet of runway left, Cantrell is able to land, but after the crew boards, they realize that the glider's skis are frozen to the ice, and that someone will have to remain behind to rock the glider and free it as the C-47 grabs its tow line. Gannon, who has been convinced by Cantrell that he was wrong about Virgie, pulls rank and orders Cantrell to pilot the glider while he remains behind, and soon the crew and Cantrell arrive at Barter Island, the nearest stop. Cantrell then pilots a C-47 back to the outpost and uses a personnel rig to pick up Gannon, who is lifted up to the plane. Gannon joins Cantrell in the cockpit, and after Cantrell radios in to alert Mary that the rescue was a success, Gannon asks the radio operator to tell Virgie that he is coming home. Virgie and Mary, who are in the radio room, are relieved to learn that their men are safe, and leave arm-in-arm to get a celebratory drink.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Action
Adventure
Release Date
May 1955
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Landmark Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Barter Island, Alaska, United States; Ladd Air Force Base, Alaska, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Articles

Top of the World


Dale Robertson stars as Maj. Lee Gannon, an aging Air Force jet pilot reassigned to a base in Alaska to work on an experimental military weather project called Operation Deep Freeze in the 1955 adventure Top of the World. Unhappy about the transfer, Gannon is surprised to find his ex-wife Virgie (Evelyn Keyes) also in Alaska running a nearby nightclub. Gannon's commanding officer on Operation Deep Freeze is Maj. Brad Cantrell (Frank Lovejoy), who just happens to be planning to marry-who else?--Gannon's ex-wife. Jealousy and anger permeate this love triangle as lives are thrown into jeopardy and bitter truths emerge.

Director Lewis R. Foster, who won an Academy Award as the writer of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), provides plenty of action, suspense and romance in Top of the World. Some of the exciting aerial sequences were taken from authentic footage of actual rescue operations at an experimental weather station near the North Pole. Warner Bros. had originally commissioned the footage for a film project that never got off the ground. Landmark Productions later purchased the footage to use in Top of the World. It was the first and only feature from Landmark Productions, which was formed in 1954 by producer Michael Baird and director Lewis R. Foster.

Some location scenes were filmed in and around Barter Island, Alaska and at Ladd Air Force Base (now known as Fort Wainwright) in Fairbanks, Alaska. The frozen setting adds plenty of atmosphere for this memorable adventure with plenty of nail-biting moments of suspense in the sky.

Producer: Michael Baird, Lewis R. Foster
Director: Lewis R. Foster
Screenplay: John D. Klorer, N. Richard Nash
Cinematography: William H. Clothier, Harry J. Wild
Film Editing: Robert Ford
Art Direction: Wiard Ihnen
Music: Albert Glasser
Cast: Dale Robertson (Major Lee Gannon), Evelyn Keyes (Virgie Rayne), Frank Lovejoy (Major Cantrell), Nancy Gates (Lt. Mary Ross), Paul Fix (Major French), Robert Arthur (Lt. Skippy McGuire).
BW-90m.

by Andrea Passafiume
Top Of The World

Top of the World

Dale Robertson stars as Maj. Lee Gannon, an aging Air Force jet pilot reassigned to a base in Alaska to work on an experimental military weather project called Operation Deep Freeze in the 1955 adventure Top of the World. Unhappy about the transfer, Gannon is surprised to find his ex-wife Virgie (Evelyn Keyes) also in Alaska running a nearby nightclub. Gannon's commanding officer on Operation Deep Freeze is Maj. Brad Cantrell (Frank Lovejoy), who just happens to be planning to marry-who else?--Gannon's ex-wife. Jealousy and anger permeate this love triangle as lives are thrown into jeopardy and bitter truths emerge. Director Lewis R. Foster, who won an Academy Award as the writer of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), provides plenty of action, suspense and romance in Top of the World. Some of the exciting aerial sequences were taken from authentic footage of actual rescue operations at an experimental weather station near the North Pole. Warner Bros. had originally commissioned the footage for a film project that never got off the ground. Landmark Productions later purchased the footage to use in Top of the World. It was the first and only feature from Landmark Productions, which was formed in 1954 by producer Michael Baird and director Lewis R. Foster. Some location scenes were filmed in and around Barter Island, Alaska and at Ladd Air Force Base (now known as Fort Wainwright) in Fairbanks, Alaska. The frozen setting adds plenty of atmosphere for this memorable adventure with plenty of nail-biting moments of suspense in the sky. Producer: Michael Baird, Lewis R. Foster Director: Lewis R. Foster Screenplay: John D. Klorer, N. Richard Nash Cinematography: William H. Clothier, Harry J. Wild Film Editing: Robert Ford Art Direction: Wiard Ihnen Music: Albert Glasser Cast: Dale Robertson (Major Lee Gannon), Evelyn Keyes (Virgie Rayne), Frank Lovejoy (Major Cantrell), Nancy Gates (Lt. Mary Ross), Paul Fix (Major French), Robert Arthur (Lt. Skippy McGuire). BW-90m. by Andrea Passafiume

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The following written statement appears at the end of this film: "To the men of the Air Weather and Air Rescue Services of the United States Air Force we gratefully acknowledge the cooperation which made this picture possible." In January 1952, Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items announced that Warner Bros. would be filming a "story of Air Force operations in Alaska," entitled Top of the World, which would be produced by Robert Sisk from a script by John Klorer. The project was never completed, however. According to a January 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Warner Bros. did shoot approximately 20,000 feet of film of an actual rescue operation being conducted at an experimental weather station near the North Pole, and that footage was acquired by Landmark Productions for inclusion in this film.
       In mid-October 1954, Los Angeles Examiner reported that Dale Robertson's brother, Roxy Robertson, was to play the film's "second lead," but he does not appear in the completed picture. Although Hollywood Reporter news items include John Howard, John Merrick, Voltaire Perkins, George Ross, Warren Schiller, Stuart Group and James McCallion in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. As noted by contemporary sources, aerial and background footage was shot on location at Ladd Air Force Base and Barter Island, AK. Top of the World was the first film made by Landmark Productions, which was formed in 1954 by Michael Baird and Lewis R. Foster. A November 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Top of the World was financed 100% by United Artists.