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The Dawn Patrol (1938)

Approved  |   |  War, Drama  |  24 December 1938 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,823 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 19 critic

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

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(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Major Brand
...
Scott
...
Phipps
Melville Cooper ...
Sgt. Watkins
...
Bott
Carl Esmond ...
Hauptmann Von Mueller
Peter Willes ...
Hollister
Morton Lowry ...
Donnie Scott
Michael Brooke ...
Capt. Squires
James Burke ...
Flaherty
Stuart Hall ...
Bentham
Herbert Evans ...
Mechanic
Sidney Bracey ...
Major Brand's Orderly (as Sidney Bracy)
Leo Nomis ...
Aeronautic Supervisor
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They roared through the dawn . . . with death on their wings ! See more »

Genres:

War | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

24 December 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Patrulha da Alvorada  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The filmmakers needed several shots of the planes taking off and landing. They assembled a squadron of 17 vintage WW1 aircraft, most of them Nieuports. Flying them proved just as hazardous as in WW1. By the time filming ended, stunt flyers had crashed 15 of them. See more »

Goofs

The amount of oil and dirt on Courtney's face changes several times between scenes. The most obvious is when he goes up stairs to console another pilot who has lost a friend. As he goes up his face is slightly dirty, as he enters the room it is noticeably dirtier and when he comes back down it is much cleaner. See more »

Quotes

Lt. 'Scotty' Scott: It's a funny war.
Phipps: [sadly] No, not awfully.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Adventures of Errol Flynn (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Exciting & Anguishing Film About "the next man who dies"
20 April 2004 | by (Florida) – See all my reviews

I first saw this movie when I was 16, and didn't understand a lot of its subtleties; I just thought it was an exciting & dramatic war film with a lot of great flying sequences. I caught it again when I was 34 and was surprised at its depth.

I like to watch this movie whenever my own job gets crazy and hectic, with unrealistic deadlines and insufficient support, because it reminds me that I really don't have it so bad after all. The men in this movie were sent up daily in obsolete equipment in a bad state of disrepair; as the film progressed the squadron had about a 70% turnover as the combat veterans were shot down and replaced by green kids whose limited training could not possibly have prepared them for what they would face.

The characters are all dissected, even lesser, supporting roles receive excellent character studies, and the stars of course are downright fascinating. It's a thrill to learn that Errol Flynn (Captain Courtney) really could act, as well as just jump around and wave a sword; David Niven is wonderfully innocent and almost childlike as "Scotty," and Basil Rathbone, a truly great actor who seldom got the chance to strut his stuff since he was usually typecast as a "bad guy" or as Sherlock Holmes, gives a nerve-wrenching performance as Major Brand, who's floundering under the strain. He proves a profound point -- it is often easier to go to your own death than to order others to do so, a lesson Captain Courtney and Lt. Scott must reluctantly learn as well.

I'm now 44, and have seen this movie a couple dozen times, but it never ages. The flying sequences are still exciting; the chivalry and wild antics of the fliers never becomes tiresome or old, and the anguish of war is still as heartbreaking. Truly a movie that will last.


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