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The Dawn Patrol (1938)

 -  War | Drama  -  24 December 1938 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,703 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 14 critic

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

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Courtney
...
Major Brand
...
Scott
...
Phipps
Melville Cooper ...
Watkins
...
Bott
Carl Esmond ...
Von Mueller
Peter Willes ...
Hollister
Morton Lowry ...
Donnie
Michael Brooke ...
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 »
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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

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

Goofs

When Captain Courtney is rescued, he jumps on the wing and hangs onto the strut. When the actual aircraft takes off, the dummy used is much further forward on the wing than Captain Courtney was. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Spoofed in Movie Movie (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Poor Butterfly
(1916) (uncredited)
Music by Raymond Hubbell
Lyrics by John Golden
Played on the Grammaphone
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Here's to the Next Man that Dies..."
10 August 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Dawn Patrol" came out at a strange time: a few years later and it would have been a product of Warner Bros' propaganda department, matching a vicious enemy against selfless heroes. But in 1938 war was still a long way from Hollywood, so instead we get one of the last great anti-war films of the Golden Age.

The cast, as usual, is superlative. Errol Flynn and David Niven are friends and drinking buddies (in real life as well as on screen) in the Royal Flying Corps, straining against the strict discipline of their commanding officer, Basil Rathbone. Rathbone gets a different sort of role: rather than the sneering villain, he portrays a sympathetic character torn apart by his duty to his superiors and his responsibility to the men he commands. In fact, the same dramatic arc afflicts Flynn and Niven in time, and the three great actors turn in some of the best performances of their careers.

The flying scenes of "Dawn Patrol" lack the scale of "Hell's Angels" or "Wings", and a lot of scenes were lifted directly from a 1930 film of the same name, directed by Howard Hawks. The California scenery distracts a little from the verisimilitude, but the squadrons of vintage Nieuport 28's and other aircraft should make up for any shortcomings in the locations. The meat of the story takes place on the ground -- unlike in "Hell's Angels" -- so the action scenes in the air serve more as punctuation marks.

Like previous First World War movies, "Dawn Patrol" portrays the cynicism and fatalism of the fighter pilots. They drink a toast to "the next man that dies", sing boisterous songs to bury their grief, and even welcome an enemy captive into their mess -- who cares whose side he's on, the war's over for him, so let's get drunk. The awful truth of the war is hammered home in scenes of youthful recruits arriving fresh from their public schools, brimming with childish bravado, ready for a great adventure -- and totally ignorant of the fate that awaits them.


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