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China Clipper (1936)

Approved | | Drama | 22 August 1936 (USA)
Dave Logan takes his regional Pan American airline and with vision and sometimes ruthless determination establishes pan-American and trans-Pacific routes.



(screen play)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Collins
Hap Stuart
Sunny Avery
Jim Horn
Joe King ...
Mr. Pierson (as Joseph King)
Mr. B.C. Hill
Ruth Robinson ...
Mother Brunn
Dad Brunn
Radio Operator on Clipper
Lyle Moraine ...
Co-pilot on Clipper
Engineer on Clipper
Navigator on Clipper
Bill Andrews


Inspired by Lindbergh's flight, Dave Logan sets out with a Washington-Philadelphia airline but suffers financial problems. With flying ace Hap Stuart he tries clipper ships on the Caribbean, then aims for the trans-Pacific route. His relentless ambition forces those closest to him to abandon him. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 August 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Courrier de Chine  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Henry B. Walthall collapsed on the set while filming and died shortly thereafter. The script of the unfinished film was rewritten so that his character would die off-screen, a heart condition having already been established in a previously filmed scene. See more »


The position of Bogart's hand changes position in a scene with Pat O'Brien. See more »


Mr. B.C. Hill: [Emphatic about his decision to shut down the unprofitale airline] I'm sorry, but my mind's made up!
Dave Logan: We worked like dogs to make this airline go! We haven't had a single crash. We've got a future!
See more »


Featured in Breakdowns of 1937 (1937) See more »


The Stars and Stripes Forever
(1896) (uncredited)
Written by John Philip Sousa
Played at the ceremony before the China Clipper's initial Pacific flight
See more »

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User Reviews

Exciting Story of Commercial Aviation
28 January 2002 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

A no-nonsense dreamer drives his men & machines to the breaking point in an attempt to establish a transpacific route for his flying CHINA CLIPPERS.

Warner Brothers gives a rousing production to a story that is essentially, on analysis, a soap opera with wings. Based on the history of Pan American Airlines, the film is at its very best when it takes to the air, especially during the exciting prolonged climax with its race to beat the clock in the initial flight from California to Macao.

Pat O'Brien gives a typically earnest, energetic performance as the tireless & tyrannical protagonist - a man who becomes increasingly obsessed with his lofty aviation goals, no matter what the cost in personal relationships. It's difficult to like the character, but O'Brien also makes it hard not to respect him.

What is especially enjoyable in CHINA CLIPPER is to appreciate the performances of three members of the supporting cast. Henry B. Walthall, the pivotal star of silent cinema, the hero of D. W. Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915), plays the gentle engineer who designs the great flying ship. His haggard appearance is not a result of makeup. He was genuinely ill with influenza and he would die two months before the release of the film. He was only 58, although he looked far older. Warners rewarded him by ratcheting him down to 10th place billing.

Ross Alexander & Humphrey Bogart play two friendly, dedicated pilots who chafe under O'Brien's dictates. These young actors had very similar acting styles & screen personas and it is quite interesting to see them perform together. Their fates, however, would be very different. Alexander had the necessary talent to become a major star, but the breaks simply didn't come his way, and, his private life spiraling out of control, he would be dead less than five months after the release of CHINA CLIPPER, a suicide at 29. Bogart got the lucky breaks, and, with some good roles in the next five years, was on his way to eventually becoming a screen legend.

Pretty Marie Wilson has a comical recurring role as a ditsy blonde enamored with Alexander. Movie mavens should spot Frank Faylen in an uncredited bit part as the company's weatherman in Columbia.

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