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The Last Flight (1931)

Not Rated | | Drama | 29 August 1931 (USA)
Cary, Shep, Bill, and Francis are pilots who have just, and only just, survived the First World War. They linger in Europe in the aftermath, drinking and ostensibly having fun, but ... See full summary »

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
David Manners ...
Shep Lambert
...
Bill Talbot (as John Mack Brown)
Helen Chandler ...
Nikki
Elliott Nugent ...
Francis (as Elliot Nugent)
Walter Byron ...
Frink
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Storyline

Cary, Shep, Bill, and Francis are pilots who have just, and only just, survived the First World War. They linger in Europe in the aftermath, drinking and ostensibly having fun, but pessimistic and flip about their futures, as each feels himself somehow lost and dead inside as a result of the horrors he's experienced. They encounter a beautiful and vivacious girl, Nikki, and adopt her, not romantically but as a sort of mascot and light around which they can hover in hopes of regaining a sense of warmth and life. Nikki does her best to reinvigorate her new friends, but despite the seeming lightheartedness of their escapades, the shadow of the war can never be dispelled. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

29 August 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le dernier vol  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a separately filmed trailer, Vitaphone production reel #4665, Richard Barthelmess and Helen Chandler discuss the picture. See more »

Goofs

During the sequence in the bullfight ring in Lisbon, the footage of the actual bullfight is stock filmed during the silent era at the then-standard speed of 16 frames per second. Spliced into a sound film and projected at the sound-standard 24 frames per second, it looks unnaturally fast. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Only Angels Have Wings (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

La valse brune
(1909) (uncredited)
Written by Georges Krier and Georges Villard
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unique and fascinating study of post-war disillusion.
14 April 2000 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

I have never seen a 1930's American film like this one! Perhaps this is because it was directed by German director William Dieterle when he was fresh off the boat. Apart from a slightly pontifical doctor musing about the difficulties of war-time flyers adjusting to civilian life near the beginning of the film, this is a subtle, evocative, under-stated and powerful depiction of this mal-adjustment. Following the end of World War One a group of American flyer buddies go on a six months long bender in Paris and Lisbon. They link up with a rich young woman, beautifully played by Helen Chandler, who drinks as hard as they do. They are all a little in love with death and wander from one meaningless adventure to another in pursuit of it. It is here that the film encounters some difficulties - making meaninglessness dramatically interesting is very difficult.

But the actors do an admirable job in suggesting the huge pain under the jovial partying. Richard Barthelmess was one of the greatest screen actors ever, and his talents are well utilised here. Johnny Mack Brown is a revelation as the rougher Bill - who knew this cowboy star was such a fine actor? David Manners is also a surprise, much better here than in "Dracula", he proves to be capable of doing great emotional work. Elliott Nugent as the heavily traumatised Francis is unforgettable, and Walter Byron is fine as an unscrupulous hanger-on.

This is not a perfect film, but it is a brave one, and is absolutely essential to an understanding of the mood after World War One. It is no surprise that the writer was also responsible for "Wings" (1927) - his understanding of the relationships between men in and after wartime is phenomenal. Make sure you see it.


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