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The Dawn Patrol (1938)

 -  War | Drama  -  24 December 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,599 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 14 critic

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



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Dawn Patrol (1938)

The Dawn Patrol (1938) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Complete credited cast:
Major Brand
Melville Cooper ...
Carl Esmond ...
Von Mueller
Peter Willes ...
Morton Lowry ...
Michael Brooke ...
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


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

24 December 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Dawn Patrol  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the Nieuports used in the movie is now on display at the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker Alabama. See more »


The opening shot identifies the time as 1915. From the first, the song played over and over on the phonograph is "Poor Butterfly." Sources seem to agree that this song was not published until 1916, and not recorded until later still. See more »


Maj. Brand: You know what this place is? It's a slaughterhouse, and I'm the butcher!
See more »


Referenced in The Waltons: The Quilting (1976) 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

Brave young pilots who defended their country in WW1
1 September 2001 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

A very action-packed drama about First World War British flyers and the risky aerial fighting they undertook. So many young pilots rose to the challenge but flew off in matchstick planes to face a deadly enemy in the sky. We share with them the revelries and tragedies met daily by this small group of flyers, most of whom didn't come back.

It's wonderful to see so many superb actors in a modern day setting for a change, playing in modern wartime roles -- a nice change from the usual pirate pics and westerns we've known them for.

Aviation during WW1 was a time of raw courage, luck, and a devil-may-care outlook on life. Errol Flynn, as Captain Courtney, reflects aloud in some pensive moments about the futility of waging war but it's a brutal reality and must be dealt with, which he does so bravely.

David Niven, as Scotty, turns in a good supportive performance and in the end of the story learns to take on a commander's responsibilities. Actually, in real life Niven also rejoined the army in WW2 and acquired honors along the way, still retaining his popularity in movies during and after the war.

"How many fine chaps will die in this war and in future wars?" -- lines spoken by Phipps (Donald Crisp) seem to warn of the oncoming Second World War.

Now in our new century let's hope we never see those clouds of war on such an enormous scale hanging over England and Europe ever again. An excellent film on heroism in wartime.

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