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The Dawn Patrol (1938)

Not Rated  |   |  War, Drama  |  24 December 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,896 users  
Reviews: 32 user | 20 critic

British flying aces in World War I contend with the harsh realities of war.



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Major Brand
Melville Cooper ...
Sgt. Watkins
Carl Esmond ...
Hauptmann Von Mueller
Peter Willes ...
Morton Lowry ...
Donnie Scott
Michael Brooke ...
Capt. Squires
James Burke ...
Stuart Hall ...
Herbert Evans ...
Sidney Bracey ...
Major Brand's Orderly (as Sidney Bracy)
Leo Nomis ...
Aeronautic Supervisor


In 1915 France, Major Brand commands the 39th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. The young airmen go up in bullet-riddled "crates" and the casualty rate is appalling, but Brand can't make the "brass hats" at headquarters see reason. Insubordinate air ace Captain Courtney is another thorn in Brand's side...but finds the smile wiped from his face when he rises to command the squadron himself. Everyone keeps a stiff upper lip. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Roaring into each blood-red dawn . . . fighting for women they had never seen . . . for love they might never know ! ! See more »


War | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

24 December 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Patrulha da Alvorada  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Maj. Brand, played by Basil Rathbone, is seen wearing the ribbon for the Military Cross. Rathbone himself was awarded this medal for bravery during the First World War as a second lieutenant. Capt. Courtney (Errol Flynn) and later Lt. Scott (David Niven) are also seen with ribbons, but Flynn and Niven were too young to serve in the war. Niven attended Sandhurst Military Academy and then served for two years on Malta. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he returned to England and re-joined the army. Flynn's weak heart got him a 4-F deferment and he never served during the war, a fact he always said he regretted. See more »


The amount of engine oil on Flynn's face. See more »


Phipps: [Opens package dropped by enemy plane] It's his helmet and goggles. It means a very gallant gentleman died this afternoon. And for what? What have all these deaths accomplished? So many fine chaps have died in this war and are going to die in future wars.
Phipps: That's all, gentlemen.
See more »


Spoofed in Movie Movie (1978) See more »


Plum and Apple
Sung a cappella by Errol Flynn, David Niven and James Burke
See more »

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User Reviews

The Dawn Patrol flies high
30 June 2005 | by (Unionville, CT) – See all my reviews

One of the very few classic World War I adventures, the work of swashbuckling Errol Flynn, the staid, villainous Basil Rathbone and David Niven who transcends from Flynn's light-hearted sidekick to a combative inferior officer light up the skies over enemy territory.

The carefree camaraderie bolstered by excessive drinking in the face of certain doom provides an uplifting theme. I particularly like the songs they sing as they belly up to the bar, most notably, "Hurrah for the Next Man that Dies." The dogfights in the biplanes of that era are so vivid because you can see the pilots' every move, and they can see each other -- the thumbs-up when one of them is shot to pieces and about to plummet to his death.

The film captures the reality of a war that history tends to overlook more and more as time goes on. It should go down as one of the classics of the era.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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