IMDb > The Dawn Patrol (1938)
The Dawn Patrol
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The Dawn Patrol (1938) More at IMDbPro »

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The Dawn Patrol -- Errol Flynn, David Niven, and Nigel Rathbone star in this gripping WWI drama about a flight commander in France who almost cracks under the pressure of sending men to their deaths.


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7.6/10   1,928 votes »
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Down 44% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Seton I. Miller (screen play) and
Dan Totheroh (screen play) ...
View company contact information for The Dawn Patrol on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 December 1938 (USA) See more »
They roared through the dawn . . . with death on their wings ! See more »
British flying aces in World War I contend with the harsh realities of war. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Errol Flynn's Best Performance See more (32 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Errol Flynn ... Courtney

Basil Rathbone ... Major Brand

David Niven ... Scott

Donald Crisp ... Phipps
Melville Cooper ... Sgt. Watkins

Barry Fitzgerald ... 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
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hal Brazeale ... Gregory (uncredited)
Tyrone Brereton ... Orderly (uncredited)
Richard Deane ... 'B' Flight Replacement (uncredited)
Burnett Fergrison ... Henry Burt (uncredited)
Fred Graham ... Running Man on Airfield (uncredited)
Ivo Henderson ... Soldier (uncredited)
Tim Henning ... Orderly (uncredited)
Shep Houghton ... Young Recruit (uncredited)
George Kirby ... Kirby--Orderly (uncredited)
Anthony Marsh ... Rutherford (uncredited)
John Meredith ... 'B' Flight Replacement (uncredited)
Wally Rairden ... Cleaver (uncredited)
John J. Richardson ... Mechanic (uncredited)
John Rodion ... Lieutenant Russell (uncredited)
Speirs Ruskell ... 'B' Flight Replacement (uncredited)
Tom Seidel ... Jones (uncredited)
John Sutton ... Adjutant (uncredited)
F. Philip Sylvestre ... 'B' Flight Replacement (uncredited)
Gordon Thorpe ... Smythe (uncredited)
Charles Waldron Jr. ... Lieutenant Billings (uncredited)
Gordon Wallace ... 'B' Flight Replacement (uncredited)
Norman Willis ... Von Richter (uncredited)
Gilbert Wilson ... Moorehead (uncredited)

Directed by
Edmund Goulding 
Writing credits
Seton I. Miller (screen play) and
Dan Totheroh (screen play)

John Monk Saunders (from an original story by)

Howard Hawks  story (uncredited)

Produced by
Robert Lord .... associate producer (uncredited)
Hal B. Wallis .... executive producer (uncredited)
Jack L. Warner .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Max Steiner 
Cinematography by
Tony Gaudio (photography)
Film Editing by
Ralph Dawson (film editor)
Art Direction by
John Hughes 
Makeup Department
Bill Phillips .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Robert Ross .... unit manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Oren Haglund .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Frank Heath .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
William Kissell .... props (uncredited)
Sound Department
C.A. Riggs .... sound
Special Effects by
Edwin B. DuPar .... special effects (as Edwin A. DuPar)
Camera and Electrical Department
Carl E. Guthrie .... second camera operator (uncredited)
Glen Harris .... grip (uncredited)
Vic Johnson .... gaffer (uncredited)
William Reinhold .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Cliff Shirpser .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Bert Six .... still photographer (uncredited)
Claude Swanner .... best boy (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Rene Wilson .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Victor Kline Jr. .... assistant cutter (uncredited)
Music Department
Leo F. Forbstein .... musical director
Hugo Friedhofer .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Capt.L.G.S. Scott .... technical advisor
Jean McNaughton .... script clerk (uncredited)
Jacques Swaab .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies
  • Warner Bros. (presents) (as Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.) (A Warner Bros. Picture)
DistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
103 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:Atp | Australia:PG | Canada:14A (Ontario) | Canada:PG (video rating) | Finland:K-16 | USA:Not Rated (DVD Rating) | USA:Approved (PCA #4585) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Courtney (Errol Flynn) says that his father was a professor of biology at Queen's. In fact, Errol Flynn's father, Theodore Thomson Flynn, was a professor of biology, first at the University of Tasmania and later at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In Tasmania he did pioneering work on the declining population of the thylacine, or "Tasmanian wolf", which went extinct in 1936.See more »
Continuity: 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 »
Maj. Brand:You know what this place is? It's a slaughterhouse, and I'm the butcher!See more »
Movie Connections:
Stand to Your Glasses! (Hurrah for the Next Man to Die)See more »


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46 out of 49 people found the following review useful.
Errol Flynn's Best Performance, 5 July 2004
Author: bob-1075 from Bob Morrell, Tonbridge, England

The Dawn Patrol - based on a book my John Monk Saunders is the story of a RFC squadron in France during the Great War.

If has three good central performances - Basil Rathbone showing an array of hyper tense emotions - David Niven changing from a happy go lucky drunken fool to a hardened leader of men and the best, by far, Errol Flynn as a guilt ridden hero whose nerves are torn to shreds.

Flynn has had so much bad press over the years and people forget that he was a great actor in the early days. This film demonstrates that superbly. There are no women in this film, no distractions. It's about men up against it, and having to watch their comrades die needlessly against overwhelming odds.

The film has moments of silence, laughter, terror all mixed together with some superb skewed camera angles in the mess to give a feeling of drunken hopelessness.

Flynn's relief at seeing Niven when he thought he was dead is a moving performance. His quiet moments when he talks about England, his control when trying to convince Nivens younger brother to go up for the first time - these scenes show real presence and talent. You feel for him and all around him.

Coming out just before the beginning of WW2 it would have given the home audiences great understanding of what they faced - a hard and bloody task, where young men will die as surely as the older ones will order them to fight.

This film should be reissued on DVD and shown around the world - it's that good. Let's write some more scripts like this and start making some decent films again.

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