IMDb > Night Flight (1933)
Night Flight
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Night Flight (1933) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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Down 21% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
6 October 1933 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Polio breaks out in Rio de Janeiro, the serum is in Santiago and there's only one way to get the medicine where it's desperately needed: flown in by daring pilots who risk the treacherous weather and forbidding peaks of the Andes. | Add synopsis »
NewsDesk:
(6 articles)
TCM Schedule: Lionel Barrymore Movies Including Night Flight Premiere
 (From Alt Film Guide. 10 August 2012, 1:32 AM, PDT)

"Kiss Me Deadly" and More DVDs
 (From MUBI. 21 June 2011, 1:34 PM, PDT)

DVD: DVD: Night Flight
 (From The AV Club. 7 June 2011, 10:00 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
"Admire them if you want to. Love them even. Just never let them know it." See more (21 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)

John Barrymore ... Riviere

Helen Hayes ... Simone Fabian

Clark Gable ... Jules Fabian

Lionel Barrymore ... Insp. Robineau

Robert Montgomery ... Auguste Pellerin

Myrna Loy ... Wife of Brazilian Pilot
William Gargan ... Brazilian Pilot
C. Henry Gordon ... Daudet
Leslie Fenton ... Jules' Radio Operator / Co-Pilot
Harry Beresford ... Pierre Roblet
Frank Conroy ... Radio Operator
Dorothy Burgess ... Pellerin's Girlfriend

Irving Pichel ... Dr. Decosta

Helen Jerome Eddy ... Worried Mother
Buster Phelps ... Sick Child
Ralf Harolde ... Pilot
Marcia Ralston ... Nightclub Vamp
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Maurice Black ... Nightclub Manager (uncredited)
Ed Brady ... Radio Operator on Telephone (uncredited)
Sidney D'Albrook ... Airport Office Employee (uncredited)
Claire Du Brey ... Santiago Nurse (uncredited)
Sherry Hall ... Airport Office Employee (uncredited)
Otto Hoffman ... Airport Office Clerk (uncredited)

George Irving ... Santiago Doctor (uncredited)
Wallace MacDonald ... Mechanic (uncredited)
Michael Mark ... Airport Office Employee (uncredited)
Francis McDonald ... Radioman (uncredited)
Louis Natheaux ... Radioman (uncredited)
Inez Palange ... Simone's Maid (uncredited)
Edward Peil Sr. ... Airport Office Employee (uncredited)
Evelyn Selbie ... Mother in Window (uncredited)

Directed by
Clarence Brown 
 
Writing credits
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (novel "Vol de nuit")

Oliver H.P. Garrett  screenplay

Produced by
Clarence Brown .... producer
David O. Selznick .... executive producer
 
Original Music by
Herbert Stothart 
 
Cinematography by
Oliver T. Marsh 
 
Film Editing by
Hal C. Kern 
 
Art Direction by
Alexander Toluboff 
Cedric Gibbons (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles Dorian .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Hobe Erwin .... interior decorator
 
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording director
Robert Shirley .... sound recordist (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
A. Arnold Gillespie .... special effects (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Paul Mantz .... stunt pilot (uncredited)
Evan Unger .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Elmer Dyer .... aerial photography
Charles A. Marshall .... aerial photography (as Charles Marshall)
Eddie Fitzgerald .... second camera operator (uncredited)
Kyme Meade .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Cliff Shirpser .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Oscar Radin .... conductor
Charles Maxwell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
84 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Three scenes show radio operators sending Morse Code. One code key looked like a J-38 single key and two were a two paddle key made by the Vibroplex Company which is still in business. The Vibroplex is also known as a Bug because of the bug logo on the key.See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
How Dry I AmSee more »

FAQ

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
"Admire them if you want to. Love them even. Just never let them know it.", 5 April 2012
Author: TrevorAclea from London, England

Billed as the Grand Hotel of the air and out of circulation since 1942, MGM's lavish 1933 production Night Flight oozes prestige but never quite works as either a schlockbuster – too classy and low key – or as a dramatisation of pioneer aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery's now-forgotten bestseller about the early days of airmail flights over the Andes. As a manly adventure it's ground that Howard Hawks would cover much better in Only Angels Have Wings while as a multi-character melodrama uniting an all-star cast through the running thread of a possible air disaster, Airport would use its template much more effectively (and nab one of its female leads, Helen Hayes). Best known today for his semi-autobiographical fantasy The Little Prince, Saint-Exupery's novel was about the curious relationship between pioneer pilots who put up no resistance to the men on the ground who would push them to risk their lives to prove that commercial mail flights were profitable and reward them by fining them for not taking stupid risks. Mixing the reverie of flying with the succeed-at-any-cost commercial realities, its conflict has been watered down and given the MGM treatment while trying to maintain a more sober tone, leading to a strangely undramatic film that's neither entirely serious highbrow drama or all-out entertaining melodrama.

There are hints at what the novel was getting at in Robert Montgomery's playboy pilot, who comes down to Earth after a turbulent flight with something like a glimpse of the infinite, to which his only response is to go out for dinner with a man he doesn't really like (Lionel Barrymore's middle manager) before retiring upstairs with a prostitute. Yet his revelation doesn't carry as much weight as it could because, like so many of the characters, he's barely introduced and then largely forgotten until his big scene, then all-but forgotten again. While there's something intriguing about a big commercial picture from a major studio in the 30s taking a low-key, almost minimalist approach and showing people going about their work – in this case the first dangerous night mail flight – and only gradually revealing hints of character as the situation worsens, it doesn't work very well for the first half hour. Too often it feels like we're expected to care just because they're played by the likes of John Barrymore or Clark Gable, and you can't help feeling that former aviators-turned-filmmakers 'Spig' Wead or William Wellman could have brought them more vividly to life without any special pleading from the script. As it is only Myrna Loy's wife really makes an initial impression with her sad confession that her husband's love of flying and need to risk his life to pursue it is a part of him eternally shut off to her, something she can neither understand nor share.

The lack of someone or something to care about is something you suspect the studio were all too aware of once the film previewed. Whereas in the novel the potentially fatal flight was purely commercial – "Just so someone in Paris can get a letter on Tuesday instead of Thursday" – here it's bookended by Irving Pichel's doctor in Buenos Aires desperately needing a shipment of serum from Chile to save a child's life. It does feel like a post-production addition and doesn't compensate for the lack of drama any more than former pilot Clarence Brown's often striking but only sporadically effective direction does. The special effects are genuinely impressive though not too showy, though curiously the most striking and memorable aspect of the flying scenes are the slow travelling shots of the people along the flightpath below, a unique approach that gives the film a sense of the scale of the unfinished journey, though the final shots of a ghost squadron flying into the sunset seem like a botched attempt to copy the final shots of All Quiet on the Western Front without ever earning the audience's emotional involvement enough to work. It certainly picks up in the second half and there's a lot that's intriguing here, but it never quite makes it to its preferred destination.

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