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
The four engine bomber flown by Gable and Tracy near the end of the film is one of thirteen Y1B-17 (model 299B) Flying Fortresses. The Model 299 prototype had crashed on October 30, 1935. Almost all of the Y1B-17s assigned to the 2nd Bomb Group appear flying in formation at the end of the film. 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 »
I've only seen this movie twice, but I guess I forgot how good the dialogue is until I watched it the second time the other day. Most films from around this time were teetering on the B edge, but this one is very well done. Mostly, though, it was the way the script was written (or the way they ad libbed it) that really made the movie. It's clever but not overdone and definitely not sappy. The way they talk to each other, especially Ann and Gunner, works in such a way as to keep you guessing and not having any idea what they may say next. I was not expecting to see that but it's very effective. Most of the rest of the movies from this genre were your stereotype typicals, and you don't get into this kind of dialogue until well into the 40s and on into the 50s. I was impressed.
Loy and Gable work very well together and don't leave anything to be desired. The chemistry, as they say, is obvious. I don't know of any other movies they starred in together, but I'm definitely going to look! Spencer Tracy shows his vesatility in this one, and his humor is one of my favorite things about him. All said and done, I'll be watching "Test Pilot" again and again and recommend it to old-movie fans.
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