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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 1,831 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:

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

Genres:

War | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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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

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 »

Goofs

(at around 1 min) Phipps is writing a letter of condolence to the mother of a recruit who has been killed in action. As he stops writing to talk with Major Brand, he switches his pen from his right hand to his left hand and removes his glasses with his right hand. In the next shot, his pen is back in his right hand and his glasses are in his left hand. See more »

Quotes

Capt. Courtney: Hooh, I did't understand a word, did you?
Lt. 'Scotty' Scott: No, I took German in school but...
Capt. Courtney: So did I, but I can't understand the way these foreigners speak it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Twelve O'Clock High (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

Plum and Apple
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung a cappella by Errol Flynn, David Niven and James Burke
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User Reviews

 
Superior clone of the 1930 version
24 January 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a stirring and exciting story of the courage shown by pilots who know they or their friends will likely be killed on one of their missions, and the anguish their commanders feel when sending them to their deaths. Set on the battlefields of WWI, the plot duplicates the 1930 version starring Douglass Fairbanks, Jr. In fact, whole sequences (especially flying scenes and the climactic attack) were lifted directly from the earlier film. (Note: although the 1930 version was originally entitled "Flight Command," and is occasionally screened under that title by TCM, IMDb also calls it "Dawn Patrol," probably to distinguish it from the 1940 Robert Taylor "Flight Command" about Navy pilots.)

Although it's a close call, I would recommend this later film over its predecessor, for the superior performances of the lead actors. Errol Flynn (as Dick Courtney) was more involving than 1930's Richard Barthelmess, a veteran actor whose performance retains the somewhat stilted quality of the silent film era. While Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was excellent in the 1930 version as pilot Doug Scott, David Niven in the same role positively sparkles in several more light-hearted, even comedic scenes. And although Neil Hamilton played Major Brand well in the original film, at least early on in the story, the role calls for a less-sympathetic performance, and who could be less sympathetic than Basil Rathbone at his sneery best?

Furthermore, current (as of 2012) releases of 1930's "Flight Command / Dawn Patrol" are not as visually clear in all scenes as the later version, and also have a lot of scratchy sounds and low rumble in the soundtrack, which are especially distracting in quieter scenes. Hopefully, remastered versions of both films will someday be available.

Still, this is only nit-picking, as both the 1930 and 1930 versions of "Dawn Patrol" are excellent. But given the choice, go with Flynn and Niven of 1938.


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