Only seven months after Charles Lindbergh's historic transatlantic flight from New York to Paris, Universal Pictures cashed in on the "Lindy craze" with "A Hero for a Night," released in December, 1927. Our hero is Hiram Hastings (Glenn Tryon), a taxi cab driver who in his spare time pursues his own Lindy-inspired dream by learning how to fly--through lessons received from a correspondence school. The realization of Hiram's goal, however, depends on financing; and when he encounters the wealthy soap-magnate Samuel Sloan (Burr McIntosh), he sees his big chance and seizes the opportunity with all the pluck of the typically optimistic 1920s hero. He is equally determined in his romantic pursuit of Sloan's daughter, Mary (Patsy Ruth Miller), who is resistant to his considerable forwardness.
"A Hero for a Night" is breezy entertainment from start to finish, a comedy of the "programmer" order, made by the studios to provide their theaters with lighter fare in between the prestige pictures. As such, it is a film that requires viewers (in 1927 as well as today) to suspend their disbelief and just sit back and enjoy a story not meant to be taken seriously or to reflect reality. This is especially true of the story's climax, the flight itself--cynics will scoff, but those who take it in the spirit in which it was made will be delighted. In addition, the film offers today's viewers glimpses of popular culture in 1927--from fashion and advertising to popular slang and in-jokes. The intertitles add considerable laughs to the film as well.
A word about the performers: Glenn Tryon's character is very reminiscent of the kind of wisecracking, skirt-chasing fellows played by William Haines in films at MGM in the late 1920s. Like Haines, Tryon has considerable charisma, as well as a talent for both comedy and pathos. He also has a charming chemistry with the very lovely Patsy Ruth Miller (with whom he would star in three other films). Burr McIntosh plays the prickly Sloan with his usual practiced competence, and all three leads are almost upstaged by the antics of Hiram's pet monkey.
"A Hero for a Night" is available now on DVD from an independent distributor and is highly recommended for all fans of silent films and U.S. popular culture in the 1920s.
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