IMDb > Murder in the Air (1940)

Murder in the Air (1940) More at IMDbPro »


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Raymond L. Schrock (original screen play)
View company contact information for Murder in the Air on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1 June 1940 (USA) See more »
The corpse of a hobo with a $50,000 money belt helps Brass and Gabby crack a cell of fifth columnists bent on sabotage. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
So Why Wasn't This Ray Available At Pearl Harbor? See more (12 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Ronald Reagan ... Brass Bancroft

John Litel ... Saxby
Lya Lys ... Hilda Riker
James Stephenson ... Joe Garvey
Eddie Foy Jr. ... Gabby Watters
Robert Warwick ... Doctor Finchley
Victor Zimmerman ... Rumford
William Gould ... Admiral Winfield
Kenneth Harlan ... Commander Wayne

Frank Wilcox ... Hotel Clerk
Owen King ... George Hayden
Dick Rich ... John Kramer
Charles Brokaw ... Otto
Helen Lynd ... Dolly
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lane Chandler ... Flagship Radio Officer (uncredited)
Cliff Clark ... Police Chief at Morgue (uncredited)
Richard Clayton ... Sailor Bringing Radiogram (uncredited)

Donald Curtis ... Quartermaster (uncredited)
Alan Davis ... Dirigible Lt. C.O. Bell (uncredited)
John Deering ... Radio Announcer (voice) (uncredited)
John Hamilton ... Agent Hargrave (uncredited)

Selmer Jackson ... Capt. Riddell - Naval Hospital Doctor (uncredited)
Reid Kilpatrick ... Continental Airport Radio Operator (uncredited)
Mike Lally ... Hargraves' Radio Operator (uncredited)
Alexander Lockwood ... Dirigible Officer (uncredited)
Charles Marsh ... Sunnyvale Radio Officer (uncredited)
Frank Mayo ... Dr. Delby - Prison Hospital Doctor (uncredited)
John 'Skins' Miller ... Taxi Driver (uncredited)

Carlyle Moore Jr. ... Sunnyvale Radio Operator (uncredited)
Jack Mower ... Collins - Police Chemist (uncredited)
Wedgwood Nowell ... Flagship Admiral (uncredited)
Paul Panzer ... Hans -,a Henchman (uncredited)
Paul Phillips ... Sailor (uncredited)
Lon Poff ... Morgue Attendant (uncredited)
Jeffrey Sayre ... Prescott - Dirigible Radioman (uncredited)
Charles Sherlock ... Zeppelin Navigator (uncredited)
Garland Smith ... Dirigible Officer (uncredited)
Edwin Stanley ... Congressman Courtney Rice (uncredited)
Julie Stevens ... Naval Hospital Nurse (uncredited)
Claude Wisberg ... Hotel Bellhop (uncredited)

Directed by
Lewis Seiler 
Writing credits
Raymond L. Schrock (original screen play) (as Raymond Schrock)

Produced by
Bryan Foy .... associate producer (uncredited)
Hal B. Wallis .... executive producer (uncredited)
Jack L. Warner .... executive producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Ted D. McCord (director of photography) (as Ted McCord)
Film Editing by
Frank Magee (film editor)
Art Direction by
Stanley Fleischer 
Costume Design by
Howard Shoup (gowns)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William Kissell .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Robert B. Lee .... sound
Music Department
William Lava .... composer: music cues (uncredited)
Max Steiner .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Other crew
Harry Seymour .... dialogue director
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies
  • Warner Bros. (presents) (A Warner Bros.-First National Picture)
DistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
55 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Australia:G | USA:Approved (PCA #5757) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)

Did You Know?

There has been open speculation that the plot of this film, in part, later inspired President Ronald Reagan to undertake the Strategic Defense Initiative, better known as Star Wars.See more »
Revealing mistakes: The dirigible USS Mason is referred to repeatedly by that name, but the name painted on her envelope is Macon (the name of the real-life Navy dirigible lost at sea in 1935).See more »
Brass Bancroft:Hey, Gabby, come on. What's the matter?
Gabby Watters:Oh, I'm worried about my girl.
Brass Bancroft:Al right, so if you can't keep the date tonight, she'll cry on her mother's shoulder.
Gabby Watters:That's just what I'm worried about. She hasn't got a mother.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Reagans (2003) (TV)See more »


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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
So Why Wasn't This Ray Available At Pearl Harbor?, 4 March 2009
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

Murder In The Air marked the conclusion of future president Ronald Reagan as two fisted, hard hitting Secret Service agent Brass Bancroft with Eddie Foy, Jr. as his sidekick. It's got every ingredient a B film for the Saturday matinée crowd should have, spies with tattoos, a secret weapon, and a two timing double crossing dame who nearly ends it for our hero.

Although the spies are never outrightly identified as German, the head guy talks with a Teutonic accent, all the bad guys have German sounding names, and they all have the same tattoo on the arm. When a body turns up Philadelphia with a lot of cash and a letter in invisible ink to a guy the US government has been looking to nail for espionage, Ron is sent in undercover taking the dead guy's identity.

These spies have something big in mind, to steal the plans of a secret weapon, a ray that can paralyze electrical currents. The weapon is called the Inertia Projector and its years in advance before the term laser came into general use.

The femme fatale in the plot is Lya Lys who is best remembered for being robbed of all her blood in The Return Of Doctor X by Humphrey Bogart. She's the wife of the dead guy Reagan is masquerading as and she nearly cooks Reagan's act. Good thing Ron was thinking fast on his feet here.

The film was written around some real footage of the USS Macon dirigible crash and incorporated in Murder In The Air. It's the best thing about the movie, the way Warner Brothers skilfully edited the disaster film footage into this movie.

My big question is how come the ray wasn't used the following year at Pearl Harbor against the Japanese?

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