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Chain Lightning (1950)

2:08 | Trailer


Airs Tue. Nov. 08, 1:15 PM on TCM

Matt Brennan runs into Jo Holloway, the Red Cross girl he romanced in Europe when he was a flyer in World War II, when he is offered a job by jet manufacturer Leland Willis as a test pilot.... See full summary »



(story "These Many Years"), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »



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Complete credited cast:
Joan "Jo" Holloway
Leland Willis
Richard Whorf ...
Carl Troxell
Maj. Hinkle
Maj. Gen. Hewitt
Ed Bostwick
Fay Baker ...
Mrs. Willis
Fred Sherman ...
Jeb Farley


Matt Brennan runs into Jo Holloway, the Red Cross girl he romanced in Europe when he was a flyer in World War II, when he is offered a job by jet manufacturer Leland Willis as a test pilot. Carl Troxell, wants to sell an escape cockpit to the Air Force. He wants Matt to stall the presentation of JA-3 the prototype that doesn't include the ejection seat, to give him more time for the experimental JA-4. But Matt doesn't believe it is yet safe enough to try. Written by vlady@worldnet.att.net

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


WITH THAT SPECIAL BRAND OF BOGART ROMANCE (original poster-all caps) See more »


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 May 1950 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Des Teufels Pilot  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although the plane in the film resembles the Bell X-1, a realistic full-scale JA-3/JA-4 model created by Paul Mantz, the aerial sequence director, was built for $15,000. The jet was constructed on the frame of a highly-modified Bell P-39 Airacobra. The Warner Bros contract called for completion of a realistic fighter able to taxi, eject exhaust and deploy parachutes. See more »


Wires visible on JA-3 model. Additionally, the wires suspending the model are going off to the side, revealing that the crew flipped the camera to create the illusion of the plane maneuvering a certain way. See more »


[Matt Brennan is doing test trials in the air]
Leland Willis: Brennan, do you hear? Bring that plane down or you'll never fly again.
Lt. Col. Matthew "Matt" Brennan: How do you want it Willis, the easy way or the hard way?
Leland Willis: I don't want any more tests. Understand Brennan? No more tests.
Lt. Col. Matthew "Matt" Brennan: OK Willis, the hard way.
[Matt pulls the microphone plug out and puts the jet into a climb]
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Featured in The F.B.I.: The Architect (1970) See more »


Bless 'em All
Written by Fred Godfrey (1917)
Revised lyrics by Jimmy Hughes and Frank Lake (1940)
Additional lyrics by Al Stillman (1941)
Sung by various characters at the cafe with piano accompaniment
Also sung by various characters at the party with piano accompaniment
Played occasionally in the score
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User Reviews

Raymond Massey as Howard Hughes??? Huh?
24 January 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In the recent film The Aviator, one of the points of Howard Hughes's life that was gone into great detail was his post World War II airplane crash in Beverly Hills while testing a new model.

From what was shown in Leonardo DiCaprio's hauntingly accurate portrayal of Hughes, the casting of Raymond Massey in a paper thin version of the flamboyant aviator/businessman is pretty laughable. I'm sure Howard must have seen Chain Lightning and didn't like it a bit.

Jets were certainly a new phenomenon in those years and had the Germans developed them sooner and additionally had invested in aircraft carriers, the course of history would have been markedly and tragically different.

Humphrey Bogart is not bad as the Chuck Yeager like test pilot, in fact Yeager's historic flight breaking the sound barrier is referenced in the plot. Warner Brothers would have been better served with a straightforward biographical film about that flight.

Richard Whorf is the earnest aircraft engineer who worries that Massey is sacrificing safety for flashy headlines. Sad to say, but Howard Hughes would have been the first to agree with Massey's position. Headlines did and still do sell military hardware, just a fact of life.

Warner Brothers cheated on the aerial footages, you can plainly see the stuff is pretty routine. Now one thing about Howard Hughes, he certainly did know how to make aerial films exciting.

Fairly clichéd subplot about Bogart reuniting with war time love Eleanor Parker who is now Massey's secretary.

I would recommend it for fans of Bogey and that's about it.

12 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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