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The plot of this film revolves around "3 Star" a show-offy pilot at an
airport. 3 Star likes to drink and likes to gamble as well as show off.
Even though he's been grounded because of his stunts, 3 Star is brought
in to fly a very important scientist to deliver his new explosive to
the government. 3 Star is waylaid before the flight and another pilot
is substituted by the bad guys. When the plane explodes in mid air its
a race to find the wreckage and the cylinder containing the explosive
before the bad guys do.
This is a breezy 60 minutes thats more than likely to keep you interested to the end. Although the plot may sound clichéd the characters and their interactions are not. Every character is quirky, but in a non-clichéd sort of way. 3 Star's gambling is atypical Hollywood, I don't know when I ever saw a character who said that he had been locked up for two days for gambling. The romance is decidedly off center, though it is very real. There seems to be more going on than just witty repartee between Judy and 3 Star, and they seem to have a long history before the film started that you can feel (which is something I rarely sense even in better movies).
I liked this movie a great deal.Granted its not the best movie ever made, but as a breezy hour long thriller its worth taking the time out to try.
The airline in the film flies Ford Trimotors. One in particular, an
AT-4, is identified: NC5578. Full details of the history of this
aircraft can be found in the Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register. It
was apparently exported to Ecuador in 1945; there is no further
information after that.
Three Star flew a biplane, registration NC406N which would indicate it was a Travel Air D-4000. The company, founded in 1925, initially built a series of sporting and training open-cockpit biplanes, including the Model A, Model B, 2000, 3000 and 4000. It was forced into liquidation in 1929 and its assets were purchased by the Curtiss-Wright corporation, which continued to manufacture some of its designs.
The airline company's base is said to be Los Angeles, but it doesn't look like that today.
The main reasons for watching this film are the excellent flying and aerobatic sequences, and the extremely attractive Ann Dvorak who certainly knew how to act in this sort of film.
This is a 7 if compared with other hour-long B features of the day, not
when compared with the A features of the same time period. There are
plot holes big enough for ace pilot 3-star (Lyle Talbot) to fly his
plane through, but that's OK, because the pace is brisk and the film is
full of action. I won't list all of the questions that the characters -
not to mention the screenplay writer - should have been asking, because
I'd give too much away.
Suffice it to say that pilot Bob 'Three Star' Halsey gets himself grounded for hot-shotting in the air near the airport where he is based. His boss would love to fire him, but both the boss and Three Star know he's too good a pilot for him to lose him to another airline. Of course Halsey has a girl, Judy Wagner (Ann Dvorak), and Judy has a brother who is also a pilot based out of the airport. Up to now Judy has been having to share Bob with his love of the air, but along comes an espionage plot centering around an important invention needed by the military that is to be transported by the airline that soon changes everything.
There are some great aerial scenes here, and although the laws of reason - and sometimes physics as well as the limitations of human eyesight - are being violated left and right, it turns out to be fun although somewhat formulaic without being corny.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a rarity--a movie with Lyle Talbot where he is the leading man.
While in A-pictures he was usually a supporting player, he did star in
some lesser productions during the early years of his long career.
Talbot plays a man who is oddly nicknamed "Three Star" (why, I have no idea) and he's a hotshot young pilot working for a small airline. While he was supposed to transport government agents and a top scientist along with his recent invention, Talbot is unable to fly because he's beaten by a gang of ruffians. With another pilot at the helm, the ship is lost and it's feared the secret formula was either destroyed or stolen, so it's up to the intrepid Three Star to save the day.
In many ways, this film plays like a movie serial condensed into a short film. With plenty of action and some decent suspense, it's a pretty good time-passer and interesting due to its aerial scenes as well as fast-paced plot. Deep? Not exactly, but still fun nonetheless.
Quicky 'B' picture (61") featuring now 2nd tier Stars of WARNER
BROTHERS (W.B.). Lyle Talbot and Ann Dvorak were first rate Stars in
the early days of the Sound-Era at the W.B. By 1934 they had fallen out
of favor with Jack Warner, head of production at the Studio. Mr. Talbot
because of his involvement with the Actors Labor movement. Ms. Dvorak
because She felt over-used in trite material, complained too much and
would not play casting-couch politics.
MURDER IN THE CLOUDS (1934) is another of those Aerial Adventures all the studios cranked out, with RKO leading the pack. This time a new 'secret explosive' must be shipped by air too our Government. What is needed is crack pilot 'Three-Star' Lyle Talbot. '3'Star is waylaid by enemy agents, the explosive stolen and Judy Wagner's (Dvorak) Brother is killed along with the Government Agents. Have no fear, with the help of Wings Mahoney (George Cooper) taking time off from 'comedy relief' both the explosive and Judy are rescued. The Villains meeting their just rewards.
Talbot's '3'Star is the typical overbearing ASS that was passed off as a 'hero' in that era. All of his irresponsible actions are forgotten and glossed over in the last reel. Dvorak only needs to look good and hit her mark, which She has no problem in doing. The Villains, Gordon 'Weasel' Westcott and ever dependable Russell Hicks are particularly ruthless. The murder of the Agents and Judy's Brother is merciless and as cold-blooded as you can imagine, told in flash-back. The film shows up on TCM and can be picked up either through www.oldies.com or at your local flee-market. Where I got my copy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This slightly boring espionage thriller is short on both length and thrills but saved by several flying sequences where the murder of a scientist on his way to Washington D.C. is shown in flashback and later a chase sequence involving the good guys and the villains. The plot is as twisted as crash wreckage and the performance by leading hero Lyle Talbot so ineffectual that you long for either James Cagney or even George Brent in the lead. The unique looking Ann Dvorak is both feisty and sweet as the stewardess heroine girlfriend, but the lack of chemistry between the two is obvious. With the technical achievements overwhelming the acting and the script, I have to mark this as a disappointment.
A Mickey Finn saves Lyle Talbot from "Murder in the Clouds" in this
1934 B movie from Warner Brothers. Talbot plays a daring pilot named
3-Star, who is capable of great stunts in the air. His boss chooses him
to transport a secret weapon; but the situation is manipulated so that
his harmless drink is spiked, and two other men go up in his place, one
of whom is the brother of his girlfriend (Ann Dvorak).
Not very realistic but some really fun aerial scenes and a good cast. The film moves quickly and isn't overly long. I remember Lyle Talbot from his TV days when I was growing up, and I love seeing him in these early films. He lived to be 94 years old, which is pretty impressive. A long and prolific career.
Murder in the Clouds (1934)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
Bob "Three Star" Halsey (Lyle Talbot) is suspended due to his dangerous stunts as a pilot but he's given a second chance when the government needs to transport a scientist carrying explosive material. Three Star gets jumped in a bar so that he misses the flight and the bad guys blow the plane up in order to get the material. This film has some of the biggest plot holes I've ever seen but the screenplay tries to explain them, which leads to one of the dumbest stories ever. There's one terrific bar fight but that's about all this film has going for it as Talbot is pretty poor here as is the supporting players.
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