Flight from Ashiya

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Flight from Ashiya
Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by Harold Hecht
Written by Elliott Arnold (novel)
Waldo Salt
Starring Yul Brynner
Richard Widmark
George Chakiris
Suzy Parker
Shirley Knight
Danièle Gaubert
Eiko Taki
Joseph Di Reda
Mitsuhiro Sugiyama
E.S. Ince
Andrew Hughes
Music by Frank Cordell
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald, ASC
Burnett Guffey, ASC
Edited by Gordon Pilkington
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
March 25, 1964 (U.S. release)
Running time
100 mins.
Language English
Budget $1.8 million[1]

Flight from Ashiya is a 1964 film about the U.S. Air Force's Air Rescue Service, flying from Ashiya Air Base, Japan. In this fictionalized film set in the early 1960s, a flight crew's mission is to rescue a liferaft of Japanese civilians stranded in rough seas. It was based on the 1959 novel by Elliott Arnold.


MSgt Mike Takashima, Col Glenn Stevenson, and 1st Lt John Gregg, all members of the U. S. Air Force Air Rescue Service at Ashiya Air Base, 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 in Europe when his H-19 Chickasaw 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-Polish (mother), half-Japanese (father), reminisces about his tragic love affair with Leila, an Algerian girl, when he was an Army paratrooper during World War II. He was unable to stop a bridge from being blown up, a bridge where Leila had run to look for him after learning that his unit was being withdrawn from town. Stevenson, Gregg and Takashima are the crew of the lead aircraft of a flight of two HU-16s dispatched to rescue the Japanese civilians at sea. When one HU-16 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. Takashima volunteered to parachute to the life rafts with rescue equipment. Stevenson 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.


George Chakiris had signed a multi-picture deal with the Mirisch brothers. He later recalled:

I turned Flight of the Ashiya down three times, and for some reason I couldn’t explain why I did not want to make that movie. I didn’t think it was right for me, but I couldn’t explain why. So I finally went to the head of the William Morris Agency and he gave me three reasons why I should make this movie. He said “It’s important to keep making movies. Look at the billing you’re getting. Look at your money you’re getting.” He didn’t say “Maybe this is a career move.” He wasn’t thinking that way either. He thought it was important to be seen and the money was good. But if you’re thinking of a career and properties you want to associate yourself with, none of that was happening and I didn’t know how to make it happen. I don’t say that with any real regret, but it was something I had to learn.[2]

See also


  1. ^ ON A JAPANESE 'FLIGHT': Yul Brynner and American Crew Find Oriental Methods Mean Problems Camera Critique Heroine By RAY FALK. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 Oct 1962: 131
  2. ^ http://popcultureaddict.com/interviews/georgechakiris/

External links

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