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In the 1930's, a First World War flying ace named Roger Schumann is reduced to making appearances on the crash-and-burn circuit of stunt aerobatics. His family are forced to live like dogs while Shumann pursues his only true love, the airplane. When Burke Devlin, a reporter, shows up on the scene to do a "whatever happened to" story on Shumann, he is repulsed by the war hero's diminished circumstances and, conversely, drawn to his stunning wife, LaVerne. Written by
During the location shooting in San Diego of this film, Robert Stack's wife was about to have their first child. While filming the tense scene where Stack propositions his own wife (played by Dorothy Malone), suddenly a plane flew right by the cameras with letters tailing four feet tall proclaiming IT'S A GIRL! Rock Hudson had arranged to have the hospital call immediately when the news came and hired a stunt pilot to tow the message behind the plane. Stack was deeply moved by Hudson's generosity, saying in his autobiography, "It's a moment I've never forgotten. Anybody who tells me that Rock Hudson isn't a first-class gent had better put up his dukes." See more »
When Laverne does her parachute jump, she is seen in close shots hanging by her arms from a trapeze-style bar. However in the longer shots, she is seen to be in a normal parachute harness as she lands. See more »
On the level, what'd you do last night?
Nothing much:just sat up half the night discussing literature and life with a beautiful, half naked blonde.
You better change bootleggers.
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Tarnished melodrama with unbelievable characters...
ROBERT STACK is a barnstorming stunt pilot in the '30s who'd been a hero aviator during the first World War. He's abusive to his loyal wife (DOROTHY MALONE) and his expert mechanic (JACK Carson) and anybody he comes into contact with. For some strange reason, newspaperman ROCK HUDSON is interested enough in this threesome to want to do a news story on them as they prepare to enter various air contests. After briefly encountering them, he even puts them up at his place when they're out of lodgings and soon becomes enmeshed in their lives.
But Hudson does deliver a solid monologue at the end when he storms into the newspaper office to give his boss the lowdown on what kind of story he uncovered. It's one of his best moments and he carries it off like a real pro.
Stack plays his sullen heel with his usual brash, solemn demeanor. A flabby looking Jack Carson plays the mechanic who's secretly still in love with Stack's wife, Malone. Malone is quietly effective as the wife who suffers and suffers while Stack's mistreatment goes unchecked, except by Hudson. Surprisingly, this is all taken from a William Faulkner novel which must have had stronger characters and situations than are depicted here.
It's a stormy emotional drama that makes little sense, directed with a certain amount of style by Douglas Sirk even though it does not use his usual trademark--Technicolor. All the emotional strife makes it a pretty heavy-handed, florid melodrama. Hudson's noble turn at the end makes a new woman of Malone, who decides to accept his offer to return to her roots in Iowa with her little son. None of it seems to ring true, at least to me.
Best feature: the flying air scenes are well staged and photographed for maximum effect--but it's hard to care about any of the characters.
Trivia note: TROY DONAHUE has a small role as an ill-fated pilot competing against Stack.
On the debit side, DOROTHY MALONE's costuming and hair style doesn't suggest the 1930s at all, but the 1950s.
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