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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 1,867 users  
Reviews: 32 user | 20 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 »
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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

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

In the beginning the planes shown landing and the planes that taxi up to the hangers are different. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in The Waltons: The Quilting (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Plum and Apple
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung a cappella by Errol Flynn, David Niven and James Burke
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the very best of all war films
29 January 2002 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

The Dawn Patrol, one of Director Eddie Goulding's very finest, is as tense and tightly wound as the characters it portrays, who face the awful question, 'what is maximum effort', how much can a man give in combat before breaking? The story revolves around the vividly drawn characters of Lt. Scott,'Scotty', played by David Niven in one of his most genuine performances, and that of his chum, Captain Courtney, well played by Errol Flynn. Together the two friends face death each day in machines held together by 'spit and baling wire' and each night drink themselves into oblivion. Their antics contrast with the concern that is eating at their commanding officer, Major Brand, wonderfully portrayed by Basil Rathbone. Brand is visibly cracking under the strain, while the oblivious Courtney and Scott play at war, seemingly unconcerned by death or anything else. Paired with Brand is the unflappable Phipps, presented by stalwart character actor Donald Crisp. It is Crisp, who is finally made to express the film's underlying anti-war theme, questioning the point of sending all the fine young men to their deaths, "...and for what?", he asks though no answer is forthcoming. The tension is expertly broken by comic interludes of genuine hilarity as well as great scenes of World War air combat. One sees a reflection of Renoir's 'Rules of the Game', when a German pilot, who is thought to have killed Scotty, is brought in to meet Courtney, who shot him down and they show each other the mutual respect and chivalry that still crossed the no-mans land between the two sides. Like '12 0'Clock High'

its World War II counterpart, this film puts the viewer under the skins of these men as they face death. No phony posturing or heroics, no masks, just humanity faced with something which, ultimately is inhuman. This intelligent and questioning film is at the very top of my list of great war films, and is an absolute must see for new generations of movie goers.


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