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The Dawn Patrol (1930)

Not Rated | | War, Drama, Action | 20 August 1930 (USA)
World War I ace Dick Courtney derides the leadership of his superior officer, but Courtney is soon promoted to squadron commander and learns harsh lessons about sending subordinates to their deaths.



(story "The Flight Commander"), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Dick Courtney
Douglas Scott
Major Brand
James Finlayson ...
Field Sergeant
Gardner James ...
Ralph Hollister
Gordon Scott
Lieut. Phipps


During the First World War, British combat pilot Dick Courtney mocks his commanding officer Major Brand for being too cautious, unaware that Brand is tormented by the requirement of his command that he send young men to their likely deaths in substandard aircraft and with insufficient training. When Brand is transferred, Courtney becomes the commanding officer and quickly realizes the burden Brand labored under. When Courtney's best friend, Douglas Scott, asks him to spare his newly arrived and inexperienced brother Gordon Scott from combat duty, Courtney cannot justify doing so. A rift grows between the friends as Courtney realizes the tragic demands of his job. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Young Eagles-boy aces of Flanders' days-riding the heavens at dawn- See more »


War | Drama | Action


Not Rated




| |

Release Date:

20 August 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flight Commander  »

Box Office


$611,722 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Howard Hawks, who was a pilot in the US Army during World War I, flew in the battle scenes as a German pilot. See more »


William Janney's character name is credited as "Gordon" on screen, but he is called "Donny" throughout. See more »


Version of The Dawn Patrol (1938) See more »


Poor Butterfly
Written by Raymond Hubbell and John Golden
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User Reviews

Barthelmess and Fairbanks Are Superb
2 December 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Terrific war film starring Richard Barthelmess as a veteran British pilot in France whose job is to make raids behind enemy lines in what are basically suicide runs. He complains to his commander (Neil Hamilton) about the green kids he gets, but of course war is hell and there's nothing anyone can do. It seems like every day they send out 5 or 6 planes and 2 or 3 come back. The guys drink heavily to hide their anguish. Barthelmess and Hamilton fight constantly until Hamilton is promoted and Barthelmess gets his desk job.

Now it's his job to send out the fliers. His best friend (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) becomes the squad leader as the green kids keep showing up for duty. Then Fairbanks' kid brother arrives. What follows breaks up the friendship between Barthelmess and Fairbanks, but the war drones on.

Excellent cinematography of aerial fights and bombing raids. The ending is simply superb, one full of heroism and irony.

Barthelmess and Fairbanks are excellent, and Hamilton is also good. Supporting cast includes Frank McHugh, William Janney, James Finlayson, Clyde Cook, and Gardner James.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Any copies in print? bilagaana
Available for streaming and download through the Internet Archive. TheStatuette
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