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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Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

16 January 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Águilas heroicas  »

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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 Sailing Zero (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Let's Forget Tomorrow Tonight
(uncredited)
Music by María Grever
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User Reviews

 
Not vintage, but still Hawks!
17 November 2005 | by (France) – See all my reviews

'Ceiling Zero' fits quite neatly into the central part of his 'oeuvre'. The classical Hawks' hero is honourable and heroic, but flawed. 'Dizzy' Davis fits firmly and squarely into this archetype. His womanising and recklessness precedes him, and is the cause on one of the film's twin tragedies. But this is offset by daring and bravery that is 'de rigeur' for mail pilots of the era. It is very rarely in films of this era that the 'hero' could still be the villain with just a few minutes to go, but that is effectively the case here. As in many of Hawks' finest films, the opening sequence serves as a contrasting miniature morality play that sets the ensuing drama into focus. Here it is a cowardly pilot who, lost in poor visibility, bails out of his plane without thought for the financial consequences for his employers. It is no accident that the company at the heart of the film is 'Federal Airlines'. Many of Hawks' films make exquisite political allegories, and this is no exception. Read the 'fog' as the Great Depression, Dizzy as the reckless aspect of the American entrepreneurial spirit and Jake as The President…

But there is more… psychologically it works a treat too. Jake and Dizzy share the same heroic wartime background. It emerges that they share the same taste in women too. To some extent, they represent two aspects of the same character – it is significant that during the climactic moments of Texas' final approach to the airfield, they keep switching roles, with first one then the other taking charge of the situation. Both of them also show the same moral flexibility – Dizzy by exchanging places with Tommy's boyfriend, Jake by being willing to distort his professional judgement to save Dizzy's flying career.

In spite of all of this, 'Ceiling Zero' cannot really be placed at the same level as the truly great Hawks masterpieces – El Dorado, To Have & Have Not, Bringing Up Baby and, significantly, Only Angels Have Wings. At the end of the film, one doesn't feel that one has really known the characters. But, considering its vintage, it is an entirely worthy work that gives us clear indications of the wonders to come.

It should be absolutely essential viewing for anyone wishing to acquaint themselves with the an important work of one of America's greatest artists, in any discipline, of the twentieth century. Another interesting parallel is Ford's 'Air Mail'which has a similar story also originating in Frank Wead.


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