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 was a Boeing Model 299B, Y1B-17 "Flying Fortress". It was one of the 13 Y1B-17s ("Y" indicating service test and "1" indicating procurement from F-1 funds) acquired by the U.S. Army Air Corps for evaluation. The massed flight at the end of the film consisted of all 13 Y1B-17s, which had USAAC serial numbers 36-149 to 36-161, and had been delivered by Boeing between 11 January and 4 August 1937. All were eventually redesignated B-17. See more »
Early in the movie, the "Drake Bullet" plane which Jim Lane is piloting springs an oil leak, which blows back on the cowling and side of the plane, clearly staining it with black oil. However, when we see the plane land in the Kansas wheat field and taxi to a stop, the side of the plane now has no signs of any oil stains whatsoever. But when the camera angle goes to a close-up of Jim climbing out of the plane, varying degrees of the oil stains on the side of the plane are again visible. 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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