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Now We're in the Air (1927)

"Wally and Ray are cousins intent upon getting the fortune of their Scotch gran-dad, an aviation nut. They become mixed-up with the U. S. flying corps and are wafted over the enemy lines in... See full summary »

Director:

Frank R. Strayer
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Cast

Cast overview:
Wallace Beery ... Wally
Raymond Hatton ... Ray
Russell Simpson ... Lord Abercrombie McTavish
Louise Brooks ... Griselle / Grisette
Emile Chautard Emile Chautard ... Monsieur Chelaine
Malcolm Waite Malcolm Waite ... Prof. Saenger
Duke Martin Duke Martin ... Top sergeant
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Storyline

"Wally and Ray are cousins intent upon getting the fortune of their Scotch gran-dad, an aviation nut. They become mixed-up with the U. S. flying corps and are wafted over the enemy lines in a runaway balloon. Through misunderstanding they are honored as heroes of the enemy forces, and sent back to the U. S. lines to spy. Here they are captured and almost shot, but everything ends happily." Moving Picture World. Written by Pamela Short

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Plot Keywords:

air corps | See All (1) »

Genres:

Comedy

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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

22 October 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dois Águias do Ar See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

23 minutes of this film has been discovered, and will be shown at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Two rowdy comics meet Our Miss Brooks
24 June 2017 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

In the late 1920s, at the peak of her Hollywood film career, Louise Brooks was one of many promising starlets being groomed for bigger things. She was under contract to Paramount, and worked with a number of the studio's prominent stars, including W.C. Fields, Richard Arlen, Evelyn Brent, Adolphe Menjou, and William Powell. Meanwhile she worked for a number of the era's top directors, including Malcolm St. Clair, James Cruze, Howard Hawks and William Wellman. Behind the scenes Brooks was considered somewhat temperamental, but no more so than many of her colleagues. Her future looked bright. And yet, just as talkies hit Hollywood, throwing everything into a state of uncertainty, she abruptly departed for Europe where she appeared in two films in Berlin for director G. W. Pabst, and an additional feature in France. When she returned to a very changed Hollywood in 1931 Brooks was unable to restart her career, and never again appeared in a lead role in a quality production. At the age of 25 she was regarded as a has-been.

Starting in the 1950s Brooks began to forge a new career for herself as an essayist, working closely with James Card at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. Ironically, the three European films that helped kill her career at its peak earned her an exalted reputation among film buffs in this period. Those films, along with her essays, gave her a lofty new status as an iconic star of the Roaring Twenties, a status that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years earlier.

Frustratingly, many of the films Brooks made during her brief Paramount heyday remain missing. This included—until recently—all four features in which she appeared in 1927, a key year in her career. It's a big deal for fans when "new" footage of Louise Brooks is discovered, and, happily, this occurred last year, when portions of the 1927 comedy feature Now We're in the Air were found in an archive in Prague.

Now We're in the Air was a vehicle for Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton, who had become a popular team with Behind the Front (1926), a hit comedy set during the First World War. Eight years had passed since the Armistice that ended the fighting, and it seemed audiences would now accept military-themed lightweight slapstick. Beery & Hatton had followed up their big success with sequels: first, We're in the Navy Now, and then Now We're in the Air; which brings us to the footage discovered in Prague. This feature originally consisted of six reels, and ran a little over an hour. The material newly found derives from Reels 2, 3, and 5, and runs about twenty-three minutes. The segments are choppy and lack context, but nonetheless give us a fair idea of the feature's tone.

According to a contemporary review of this film I found in Variety, Wally & Ray have signed up for the Air Force accidentally, while trying to get their hands on their Scottish grandfather's inheritance. None of this plot exposition is to be found in the newly recovered footage, however. The first portion that survives consists of a rowdy sequence at an airfield in France, where Wally & Ray struggle with a parachute. They wind up on a target range, and can't seem to understand that they're in danger. The tone of the slapstick reminded me of a later team: Abbott & Costello, struggling to deal with WWII military life in Buck Privates.

Next, Wally & Ray are at a circus, and this is where we meet Louise Brooks. She works as a performer, and has a nice entrance, stepping out of her trailer wearing a fetching black tutu. According to plot synopses of the film Brooks appeared in a dual role, as twins; one of her characters is sympathetic to the French cause while the other favors the Germans, but in the surviving footage we see only the French Louise, at the circus. She interacts sympathetically with Wally & Ray. (We also see actor Malcolm Waite, best remembered as Charlie Chaplin's nemesis in The Gold Rush, once again in an unsympathetic role.) Soon, our heroes find themselves in an observation balloon that goes astray, and they sail through the air across enemy lines while Louise watches from the ground in dismay—and that's the last we see of her, to our own dismay. In the final sequence, Wally & Ray board a plane and try to return to friendly territory. Their scenes in the air, perhaps influenced by the recent success of 'Wings,' were impressively filmed.

Needless to say, the recovered portion of Now We're in the Air gives us only a taste of the complete feature, although it does give us a sense of the film's comic style. The aforementioned review in Variety mentions another "highly indelicate" scene, still missing, in which Wally & Ray hide in a prop cow costume, one of those vaudeville style two-man outfits, and then have to avoid being milked by a near-sighted soldier. The critic calls the sequence "fun that poises perilously balanced between vulgarity and robust amusement." Sounds pretty funny to me, and in keeping with the material that has miraculously turned up. I do wish that more of the Louise Brooks scenes had been recovered, but perhaps it's best to express appreciation for what we have rather than what's still missing. One third of Now We're in the Air is a whole lot better than nothing.


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