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The Sky Pilot (1921)

Not Rated | | Drama | 17 April 1921 (USA)
The sky pilot is a preacher who helps Gwen walk again after a near-fatal accident.

Director:

King Vidor

Writers:

Ralph Connor (novel), Faith Green (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
John Bowers ... The Sky Pilot
Colleen Moore ... Gwen
David Butler ... Bill Hendricks
Harry Todd ... The Old Timer
James Corrigan James Corrigan ... Honorable Ashley
Donald MacDonald Donald MacDonald ... The Duke
Kathleen Kirkham ... Lady Charlotte
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Storyline

The sky pilot is a preacher who helps Gwen walk again after a near-fatal accident.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Four thousand maddened steers in terrific stampede charge straight for the helpless girl. the Sky Pilot leaps to veer them, And they thunder right down on him! (Print Ad- Los Angeles Evening Herald, ((Los Angeles, Calif.)) 4 July 1921)

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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User Reviews

 
Colleen Moore in an Early Hit with John Bowers and David Butler
18 October 2009 | by drednmSee all my reviews

The Sky Pilot was an important film for director King Vidor in 1921 (along with Love Never Dies, which also survives). I was asked for a copy of this film and barely remembered it so I re-watched yesterday.

Vidor had been directing films left and right from the mid-teens but by 1921 he had started to develop his own pace and visual style. He was also well enough established that he started getting good stories and good actors.

The Sky Pilot (slang for preacher) arrives from Montreal in the Canadian Rockies where he attempts to set up a parish. The greenhorn (John Bowers) is befriended by a local ranch foreman (David Butler) who tries to help him set up shop in the local saloon. It's a disaster and Bowers is run out of town.

But the men reconcile and Butler gets Bowers a job on the ranch where both men are rivals for Colleen Moore. There's lots of trouble from a local bandit and his men, but after Bowers is rescued from a spectacular fall off a gorge bridge, things settle down until Moore falls off her horse during a stampede and is crippled.

The winter scenes are quite stunning so that when Bowers opens his church (apparently built by Butler but is burned down), the flaming church against the fresh snowfall is memorable. As is the redemptive ending.

The use of location shooting is terrific here for Vidor. This is also the only time Moore worked for Vidor although they were lifelong friends. Indeed, Moore was part of Vidor's quest to solve the murder mystery surrounding William Desmond Taylor. Vidor and Moore planned to produce a film about this famous murder but it never happened.

Bowers is very good here. He was a fairly big star in silents, but flopped in a few talkie attempts. His final film was a western in 1931. He committed suicide by walking into the Pacific in 1936, an event that supposedly influence the ending of A Star Is Born in 1937. He couldn't find work in Hollywood despite having appeared in more than 90 films.

Moore has a smallish role here but just a few years from her career-making role in Flaming Youth it's easy to see why she became one of the biggest stars of the silent era.

The real surprise here is David Butler, an actor I'm not familiar with. Never really a star, he made his last film in 1929 and then turned to directing full time. He directed until the late 60s. He's excellent here as the caring cowboy and is in many ways the center of this film.

My one gripe is that this film, released on VHS by Critics Coice Video contains an annoying music track by David Schimmel on which he hums and sings several times. The churchy-sounding music is OK in and of itself, but there's something innately wrong with a silent film accompanied by singing.


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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

17 April 1921 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Manden fra Bjergene See more »

Filming Locations:

Truckee, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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