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Tail Spin (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 19 February 1939 (USA)
Flyer enters a cross-country aerial derby, becomes rival to a wealthy society flyer, competes in parachute jumps and has love affairs.





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Directors: Irving Cummings, Buster Keaton, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Alice Faye, Don Ameche, J. Edward Bromberg


Complete credited cast:
Trixie Lee
Gerry Lester
Lois Allen
Babe Dugan
Lt. Dick 'Tex' Price
Wally Vernon ...
Speed Allen
J. Anthony Hughes ...
Al Moore
T.P. Lester
Mary Gordon ...
Mrs. Lee
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:


Flyer enters a cross-country aerial derby, becomes rival to a wealthy society flyer, competes in parachute jumps and has love affairs.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 February 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Luftens amazoner  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Constance Bennett's role of Gerry Lester was originally intended for Loretta Young. See more »


Trixie Lee: You can get twenty-five dollars for entering the parachute jumping contest.Every time you land on the target circle, you get a hundred and twelve dollars and fifty cents extra.
Babe Dugan: Oh, how lovely! Say, why do I always have to do the dirty work?
Trixie Lee: Well, I can't fly the plane and jump, too! It's easy. Just delay your drops and don't pull your ring until you've fallen a long way. It'd be great publicity for both of us.
Babe Dugan: Sure, I, I can see the headlines now: Aerial Butterfly Falls To Her Death. No.
See more »


Are You in the Mood for Mischief?
Music by Harry Revel
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by Alice Faye
See more »

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User Reviews

Stage Door Takes To The Skies
1 May 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

I have absolutely no doubt that Frank 'Spig' Wead must have seen a production of the George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber classic on stage or saw the screen version with Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. He must have liked it because it certainly inspired his writing of the script of Tailspin.

My guess is that Wead who knew the world of aviation well as we all know from seeing Wings of Eagles, did not of course know it from a woman's point of view. Therefore I think he took what is a woman's story in Stage Door and adapted it for the screen in aviation.

The Katharine Hepburn part is played by Constance Bennett who is a socialite who takes up aviation as a lark to compete with her boyfriend army aviator Kane Richmond. She can afford the best and uses her money to build a custom job that can beat anything in the air. Her father Harry Davenport disapproves of his daughter's avocation the same way Hepburn's father did in Stage Door.

She's got a chief rival in Alice Faye, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who represents the rest of the woman so to speak. As Richmond tells Bennett, these other women are competing for coffee and donut money, their living is in the balance in the Depression Era America of the Thirties.

There is an Andrea Leeds equivalent played by Nancy Kelly and beautifully if I might add. She's married to another aviator Edward Norris and they are bonded together by their love of each other and of flying.

The men come up second best in this film. Surprising when you consider who wrote it, not surprising when you consider what Spig Wead might have used as the source. Because they come up second best you can understand why Fox leading men like Tyrone Power and Don Ameche probably weren't even offered this one. Charles Farrell is in the rather colorless role as the mechanic on Faye's plane who'd like to get something going with her if Richmond would get out of the way. You see he's romancing both Faye and Bennett.

Alice Faye gets one song to sing in Tail Spin, a number from her favorite songwriters, Mack Gordon and Harry Revel. She sings Are You In The Mood For Mischief in her familiar warm contralto and well.

The climax of all of this involves the air races in Cleveland. Tail Spin is an interesting feminine take on the aviation profession with a very familiar plot line.

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

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