7.8/10
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20 user 21 critic

The Dawn Patrol (1930)

World War I ace Dick Courtney derides the leadership of his superior officer, but Courtney is soon promoted to squadron commander and learns harsh lessons about sending subordinates to their deaths.

Director:

Howard Hawks

Writers:

John Monk Saunders (story "The Flight Commander"), Dan Totheroh (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Barthelmess ... Dick Courtney
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Douglas Scott
Neil Hamilton ... Major Brand
Frank McHugh ... Flaherty
Clyde Cook ... Bott
James Finlayson ... Field Sergeant
Gardner James ... Ralph Hollister
William Janney ... Gordon Scott
Edmund Breon ... Lieut. Phipps
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Storyline

During the First World War, British combat pilot Dick Courtney mocks his commanding officer Major Brand for being too cautious, unaware that Brand is tormented by the requirement of his command that he send young men to their likely deaths in substandard aircraft and with insufficient training. When Brand is transferred, Courtney becomes the commanding officer and quickly realizes the burden Brand labored under. When Courtney's best friend, Douglas Scott, asks him to spare his newly arrived and inexperienced brother Gordon Scott from combat duty, Courtney cannot justify doing so. A rift grows between the friends as Courtney realizes the tragic demands of his job. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Greatest Air Epic Ever! See more »

Genres:

War | Drama | Action

Certificate:

Passed
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

20 August 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flight Commander See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$611,722 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

First National Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In September 1928, Warner Bros. Pictures purchased a majority interest in First National Pictures and from that point on, all "First National" productions were actually made under Warner Bros. control, even though the two companies continued to retain separate identities until the mid-1930's, after which time "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture" was often used. See more »

Goofs

William Janney's character name is credited as "Gordon" on screen, but he is called "Donny" throughout. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Pay-Off (1930) See more »

Soundtracks

Stand to Your Glasses! (Hurrah for the Next Man to Die)
(uncredited)
Music traditional
Lyrics adapted from poem "The Revel" by Bartholomew Dowling
Played on guitar by an unidentified airman and sung by an unidentified airman and others
Reprised a cappella by the airmen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
If They Live, They'll Be Veterans
1 June 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Although William Wellman is the Hollywood director most associated with air films, not counting of course the self indulgent Howard Hughes, Howard Hawks with The Dawn Patrol and with Air Circus and Only Angels Have Wings can certainly hold is own against the formidable Mr. Wellman on his own turf.

This may have been Howard Hawks's first sound feature and he debuted magnificently with a story about a group of fliers from the United Kingdom's Royal Flying Corps of World War I. John Monk Saunders wrote the original story for the screen that netted The Dawn Patrol an Academy Award for that category.

The story centers on three men. Group commander Neil Hamilton who has to send his men up against some of Germany's best fliers and two of his senior pilots, Richard Barthelmess and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Hamilton is a troubled man indeed, having to send barely trained kid pilots and he hears about it from Barthelmess and Fairbanks.

One fine day, oddly enough to do a daring assault that Barthelmess and Fairbanks pull off, Hamilton gets a promotion up to the staff headquarters. In a curious bit of poetic vengeance he names Barthelmess his replacement.

Of course when Barthelmess now is seeing the war from Hamilton's point of view, he starts to behave differently. What he does and the choices he makes are the basis for the rest of this story about some of the United Kingdom's most gallant generation lost in the first terrible total war of the last century.

As Fairbanks and Barthelmess criticize Hamilton in what he does, I do wonder about when they were the fresh recruits. They became the veterans more than likely by sheer chance that they did survive. Yet that never plays a part in their thinking.

The aerial combat sequences are excellently staged, Howard Hughes and William Wellman could hardly have done better. They were so good that they got used again in the 1938 remake of this film.

The Dawn Patrol also marked the film debut of Frank McHugh who graced Warner Brothers films for the next 20 years. I've said in many comments and on their respective pages that it could almost not be a Warner Brothers film without either Frank McHugh or Alan Hale or both in a given feature, they appeared so often. The brothers Warner, got their work out of those two.

The 1938 remake with Errol Flynn, David Niven, and Basil Rathbone is the one most are familiar with. Still this one is the real deal.


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