Test Pilot (1938)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  22 April 1938 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,437 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 11 critic

Jim is a test pilot. His wife Ann and best friend Gunner try their best to keep him sober. But the life of a test pilot is anything but safe.



(screen play), (screen play), 6 more credits »
0Check in
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Two rival newsreel photographers join forces to find the an aviatrix's missing brother, who has disappeared in the Amazonian Rain Forest.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon
Boom Town (1940)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two buddies who rise from fly-by-night wildcatters to oil tycoons over a twenty year period both love the same woman.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert
China Seas (1935)
Certificate: Passed Action | Drama | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When earthy Dolly Portland is rejected by Captain Gaskell in favor of a socialite, she aids Jamesy McCardle, in league with Malay pirates, in his plot to seize his ship.

Director: Tay Garnett
Stars: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery
Saratoga (1937)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

After winning a stud farm in lieu of gambling debts, bookie Duke Bradley turns an eye to the daughter of the now deceased gambler and her millionaire fiancée.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore
San Francisco (1936)
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A Barbary Coast saloonkeeper and a Nob Hill impresario are rivals for the affections of a beautiful singer, both personally and professionally in 1906 San Francisco.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Stars: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The wife of a publishing executive mistakenly believes that her husband's relationship with his attractive secretary is more than professional.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy
Reckless (1935)
Drama | Musical | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Wealthy Bob Harrison buys all the seats in the theatre to watch Mona Leslie's musical by himself. He loves her, her agent Ned Riley loves her. Conflict ensues.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Jean Harlow, William Powell, Franchot Tone
Adventure (1945)
Drama | Romance | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Sea-going roustabout falls for meek librarian.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Clark Gable, Greer Garson, Joan Blondell
The Hucksters (1947)
Drama | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A World War II veteran wants to return to advertising on his own terms, but finds it difficult to be successful and maintain his integrity.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Clark Gable, Deborah Kerr, Sydney Greenstreet
Red Dust (1932)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The owner of a rubber plantation becomes involved with the new wife of one of his employees.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Gene Raymond
Without Love (1945)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In World War II Washington DC, Jamie Rowan, enters a loveless marriage with scientist Pat Jamieson and becomes his assistant. Struggles bring them closer together.

Director: Harold S. Bucquet
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Adam Lemp, the Dean of the Briarwood Music Foundation, has passed on his love of music to his four early adult daughters - Thea, Emma, Kay and Ann - who live with him and his sister, the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Claude Rains, John Garfield, Jeffrey Lynn


Complete credited cast:
Samuel S. Hinds ...
General Ross
Ted Pearson ...
Mrs. Benson
Louis Jean Heydt ...
Virginia Grey ...
Priscilla Lawson ...
Claudia Coleman ...
Mrs. Barton
Arthur Aylesworth ...
Mr. Barton


Jim Lane is a test pilot, whose professional life is dangerous, and whose personal life compensates for that danger by fast living and recklessness. As such, he lives from paycheck to paycheck, and is often in debt, but knows his lucrative job will eventually get him out of those debts. On a coast to coast record attempt speed flight, Jim's plane, the Drake Bullet (named after the company's owner), hits some mechanical problems and Jim is forced to make an emergency landing on a farmer's field in Kansas. The farm belongs to the Barton family, whose straight talking daughter, Ann Barton, falls for Jim, and visa versa. They impulsively decide to get married and live in New York. Jim's sidekick and mechanic, "Gunner" Morris, doesn't know if Jim and marriage go hand in hand, both because of the type of person he is and his profession. Ann too soon learns that she plays second fiddle to Jim's work, she referring to the sky as Jim's mistress. Ann also truly comes to understand the dangers ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

pilot | marriage | danger | mechanic | farm | See All (15) »


The greatest cast, the grandest romance, the most amazing adventure thrills ever photographed -- all combined to give you the biggest picture that M-G-M ever made! Eight hundred airplanes! Cast of thousands! See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 April 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Testpilot  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The aircraft that Clark Gable tested and ripped the wings off was a Northrop Gamma, Northrop serial numbers 189 through 290, U.S. Army Air Corps designation A-17A with serial numbers 36-162 to 36-261. These aircraft were ordered in December 1935 and were delivered between August 1936 and December 1937. In 1932, Northrop had become a subsidiary of the Douglas Aircraft Company and in 1937, it was reorganized as the El Segundo Division of Douglas. One hundred twenty nine A-17As were ordered but only 93 served with the Army Air Corps for 18 months. The 93 were released for sale to France in 1940 and refurbished by Douglas; 61 were transferred to the Royal Air Force after France surrendered to the Germans and were named Nomad Mk. I. The RAF considered these aircraft as obsolete and 57 were assigned to the South African Air Force as trainers. The remaining 32 went to the Royal Canadian Air Force and served exclusively for training purposes as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. See more »


When Jim Lane sits the landlady down to talk to her about rent arrangements, he reaches out and holds her with his arms outstretched. On his left arm (closest to the camera), his wristwatch is alternately covered with his shirt cuff, then uncovered and visible, then covered, between shots. See more »


Referenced in Thousands Cheer (1943) See more »


The Prisoner's Song (If I Had the Wings of an Angel)
(1924) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Guy Massey
Sung a cappella by Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and others
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Testing for World War Two
22 January 2001 | by (flint mi) – See all my reviews

This film is essentially about testing planes for the war that anyone who even had a passing interest in international affairs knew was unavoidable, World War Two. The plot deals with the experimental phase of flying military equipment, of which the United States had inferior quality and little quantity in 1938. In the interest of progress, test pilots were willing to take to the air and strain both themselves and their equipment beyond normal bounds. The mythology is enhanced by the prologue in terms of the lack of the publication of "the specifications of government aircraft." It is probably just as well since America's enemies generally had better aircraft before the American involvement, except perhaps for the C-47 and the B-17. This initial disclaimer only sharpens the fiction of the film. The movie is worth a look if one is even mildly interested in aircraft lore.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
DAMMIT...why isn't this film on DVD? Doghouse-6
A Gem 2001-4
I must be missing something. YesthatChristine
The Bird RodReels-2
Is Myrna Loy Braless? UAF-Nanooks
The Ending? npaxton-3
Discuss Test Pilot (1938) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: