The Dawn Patrol (1938)

Not Rated  |   |  War, Drama  |  24 December 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,927 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


They roared through the dawn . . . with death on their wings ! 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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Most of the aerial footage comes from Warner Bros.' previous 1930 version (The Dawn Patrol (1930)). See more »


During the final mission by Errol Flynn, four German planes take off to pursue him. However, one plane simply disappears. There are only three planes that attack him. He shoots down two, including Von Richter, but is killed by the third. See more »


Capt. Courtney: Man is a savage animal, who, periodically to relieve his nervous tension, tries to destroy himself.
See more »


Version of The Dawn Patrol (1930) See more »


Stand to Your Glasses! (Hurrah for the Next Man to Die)
(ca 1850) (uncredited)
Music by Alfred Domett, adapted from a Beethoven dirge
Lyrics adapted from the poem "The Revel" by Bartholomew Dowling
Sung a cappella by the airmen in the club
See more »

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User Reviews

Flynn shines in serious drama of WWI aviators...
12 April 2005 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

DAWN PATROL was a forerunner of the "men facing war" kind of dramas that became a steady source of entertainment in books and films of the decades that followed, particularly after WWII.

But this takes place during World War I in 1915, when aviation was still young and men in the flying machines were sent into battle against greater odds than anyone could imagine.

Basil Rathbone plays the commander breaking under pressure who has to see young men under his command die in battle against the Germans. He is delighted to be relieved of his command by the young flier who has been chiding him for sending inexperienced men into battle--Errol Flynn.

Flynn soon finds himself hounded by the same sort of pressures facing Rathbone. His best friend (David Niven) is a fun loving pal who has a change of heart when his younger brother (well played by Morton Lowry), turns up for immediate duty despite a scant amount of training. Under Flynn's orders, the boy goes into battle the following day and is killed. This event sets up the dramatic conclusion which has Flynn willing to sacrifice himself and single-handedly take on a most dangerous mission across enemy lines.

Edmund Goulding keeps the story going from one excellent scene to another and all of the performances are first rate. Donald Crisp is less stuffy than usual in a good supporting role.

But it's Errol Flynn who makes the strongest impression in a role that calls for some fine moments of acting. His emotions seem genuine and his performance is crisp and mature. Indeed, one of his best performances in a well written role.

The ultimate message of the film is the anguish and futility of war and it comes across without being preachy. Definitely a Flynn film that is well worth watching.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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