6.9/10
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5 user 7 critic

Ceiling Zero (1936)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 16 January 1936 (USA)
War veteran pilots Dizzy Davis, Texas Clark and Jake Lee are working in an airline. Dizzy is fooling with one of the younger pilot's girl-friend and due to this, he changes flights with ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Texas Clarke
...
Henry Wadsworth ...
Tay Lawson
Martha Tibbetts ...
Mary Miller Lee
...
Lou Clarke
...
Joe Allen
...
Smiley (as Dick Purcell)
...
Eddie Payson
...
Fred Adams
Garry Owen ...
Mike Owens
Edward Gargan ...
Doc Wilson
...
Les Bogan
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Storyline

War veteran pilots Dizzy Davis, Texas Clark and Jake Lee are working in an airline. Dizzy is fooling with one of the younger pilot's girl-friend and due to this, he changes flights with Texas. Texas' plane crashes attempting to land on their airfield under extremly bad weather circumstances, he is killed in this accident. Dizzy feels guilty for his friend's death and takes the next flight under even worse circumstances, testing a new anti-ice device on the plane. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

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Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

16 January 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Águilas heroicas  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank "Spig" Wead who wrote both the original Broadway play and the screenplay for this film, would later be portrayed by John Wayne in the John Ford film "On Wings of Eagles". See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Ceiling Hero (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

I Can't Give You Anything but Love
(uncredited)
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Sung by James Cagney over the airplane radio
See more »

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User Reviews

 
For a screenwriter, too stagey
2 February 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Ceiling Zero is a story about airmail pilots back when flying was itself an occupational hazard. It was written by Frank W. Wead, better known as Spig Wead whose life was later brought to the screen by John Ford in Wings of Eagles.

For those who've seen Wings of Eagles, they know that Spig Wead was a navy pilot who set all kinds of aviation records before becoming paralyzed with a broken neck due to a fall down some stairs in his home. After that Wead turned to writing and published all kinds of articles, stories, and screenplays mostly relating to aviation.

Ceiling Zero was Wead's one attempt at a Broadway play. It ran for three months on Broadway in 1935 with John Litel and Osgood Perkins in the roles played by James Cagney and Pat O'Brien respectively. It got good critical acclaim, but a short Broadway run as did a lot of plays during the Depression.

O'Brien is the operations manager of an airline and Cagney is an old friend who is an irresponsible but talented flyer. Superficially those seem like parts tailor made for Cagney and O'Brien, but this is in fact a serious drama so their usual hijinks are not present in this film as well they shouldn't have been.

Cagney and O'Brien had done another film about aviation, Devil Dogs of the Air which is far more lighthearted, but which Warner Brothers invested far more production values. For the most part, Ceiling Zero is a photographed stage play with some scenes that are clearly done on the backlot.

I'm surprised that Wead who did in fact write more for the screen didn't push for a bigger budget and some location shooting for his play. On the plus side Director Howard Hawks handles his cast real well and you can see some influences for the later and better Only Angels Have Wings.


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