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Death in the Air (1936)

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Aircraft are being shot down by a large black plane with a big "X" painted on the wing. The chief suspects are invited for the weekend to an old dark mansion.



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Cast overview:
Lona Andre ...
Helen Gage
John Carroll ...
Jerry Blackwood
Carl Goering
Henry Hall ...
Henry Goering
Hans Joby ...
Lt. Baron von Guttard (as John S. Peters)
Gaston Glass ...
Lt. Rene La Rue
Pat Somerset ...
Capt. Roland Saunders
Wheeler Oakman ...
Lt. Douglas Thompson
Reed Howes ...
Lt. John Ives
John Elliott ...
Dr. Norris
Willard Kent ...
Inspector Gallagher


Planes are being shot down by a large black plane with a large "X" painted on the wing. The chief suspects are invited for the weekend to an old dark mansion. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Mystery rides the clouds in a murder plane


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death in the Sky  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

X Rated
14 March 2005 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

***SPOILERS*** An airborne homicidal lunatic is on the loose over the skies of America and has gunned down some half dozen passengers planes and their crews.

The imminent psychiatrist Dr. Norris,John Elliott, has come to the conclusion, by treating WWI vets with combat-related mental problems,that the crazed pilot is a deranged WWI ace who's still fighting the war and trying to run up his score of kills in the air. Dr. Norris also deducts that the airman, dubbed Pilot X due to the white X makings on his plane,is also suffering from split personality syndrome making him look and act normal when he's not in his WWI fighter ace mode.

Getting together with Jerry Blackwood, John Carroll, the hero of the film and US Aironotic inspector Gallagher, Willard Kent, Dr. Norris concocts this plan to trap and catch Pilot X by playing on his arrogance and bravado. Inviting the WWI aces in the area, feeling one of them is Pilot X, Dr. Norris is curtain that the killer would show up to throw off suspicion, on himself, and at the same time give him a chance to match wits and bullets with the other air aces, running up his score of kills against the best in the business, ace combat fighter pilots.

The movie has Pilot X leave messages that has the other aces go in the air and meet him in air-to air combat with almost all of them getting shot down by Pilot X. USAAF ace Let. Douglas Thompson, Wheeler Oakman, was mistakenly shot down by the hero of the movie Jerry Blackwood when Pilot X secretly painted a white X on the side of his plane and then having him shot down by Jerry thinking that he was Pilot X.

In the final sequence Jerry and nutty Capt. Saunders (Pat Summerset), who himself already lost his mind, took off to take on Pilot X with Jerry's girlfriend Helen, Lona Andre, stuck in Saunders plane's back seat. Jerry shoots down the insane Pilot X and,later on the ground after his plane crashed, reveal his identity.

Great aerial photography with the exciting air to air dog-fights between Pilot X and the flying aces of WWI made the movie, despite it's unbelievable story, worth watching. There was also a weird and hilarious scene with the off-the-wall Capt. Saunders completely flipping out of his head, over his experiences in the First World War, that ranks right up there with the great classic film crack-up scenes in movies like "Maniac" in 1934 and the great "Reefer Madness" in 1938.

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