Probably the only way to appreciate Atlantic Flight is to understand why it was made at all. In 1937 when pilots were treated like Apollo astronauts would be 30 years later, 43-year old Dick Merrill was the second-most famous aviator in the country. He'd flown the first two commercial round-trip Atlantic Ocean flights, first, the so-called 'Ping Pong Ball Flight' with millionaire nightclub singer-owner Harry "Puttin' On the Ritz" Richmann (who'd placed thousands of ping pong balls inside the wings in hopes of added buoyancy in the event of a water "landing") in 1936 (the plane ended up crashing in a peat bog in Nova Scotia thanks to Harry accidentally dumping the fuel in a panic and enraging the ordinarily ultra-calm Merrill) and the second, the so-called 'Coronation Flight,' doing a quick turn around to haul newsreel film back from England with a far more capable co-pilot (and movie co-star! Jack Lambie. Atlantic Flight proves why they never quit their day jobs with Eastern Airlines (they'd both end up retiring from EAL, Dick in 1961 and Jack in the early 70's). This movie was made by Monogram (the company then temporarily working out of leased space in the "New" Universal studio lot)--- which had just reformed after a brief troubled merger with Herbert J. Yates' Republic--- as a chance to capitalize on Dick's fame. Merrill spent the rest of his life joking about his terrible performance in his one shot as a movie star--- he was right, it's awful! Dick's acting range could be compared to 3/8" plywood. He'd actually make one more appearance in a 1953 telefilm, 'Flying With Arthur Godfrey.' The only actor showing any real talent is a young Milburn Stone (co-star Paula's cousin) who easily outshines everyone else in the cast. An interesting curio for aviation buffs for the 1930's aircraft and shots of the actual Vultee used by Dick and Jack. Merrill, an inveterate gambler, was said to have blown his $2500 movie pay at Santa Anita the weekend after the film wrapped up--- fortunately, he'd soon marry gorgeous 22-year old actress Toby Wing and go on to enjoy a remarkable 45-year life together. Atlantic Flight is a B-movie tribute to an A-list pilot.
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