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Test Pilot (1938)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 22 April 1938 (USA)
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) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
General Ross
Ted Pearson ...
Mrs. Benson
Priscilla Lawson ...
Claudia Coleman ...
Mrs. Barton
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) »


YOUR GREATEST SCREEN THRILL IN 10 YEARS! (original ad - all caps) 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?


This film was first telecast in Philadelphia Wednesday 14 November 1956 on WFIL (Channel 6), followed by New York City Wednesday 9 January 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2) and by Los Angeles Friday 1 March 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11); it was first aired in San Francisco 27 February 1960 on KGO (Channel 7). 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 »


Featured in The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind (1988) See more »


Goodbye Blues
Written by Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields and Arnold Johnson
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User Reviews

Gable and Tracy and Barrymore and Loy! Great Movie!
27 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

What a fantastic movie! This shows Clark Gable at his peak, just a year before Gone with the Wind, and Spencer Tracy near his beginning. With masterful directing on the part of Victor Fleming, cameras put you in the pilot's seat as you do barrel rolls and loops and dives. Gable and Tracy's beautiful friendship embraces their love of flying, and the two are inseparable, even after Myrna Loy enters the picture. Gable and Tracy act extremely well together, so it's surprising to me that this is their only movie together. Myrna Loy is a delight, as she is a departure from the eye candy role women traditionally played in those days. She actually acts, and she does it very well. And of course there is the immortal Lionel Barrymore, playing the same role of Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life, but without the greed. And, surprisingly, he offers very touching, and very accurate advice to Gable in the end. A great movie, a joy to watch again and again!

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