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The Dawn Patrol (1930)

Passed | | Action, Drama, War | 20 August 1930 (USA)
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.


Howard Hawks


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




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


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


"HERE'S TO THE NEXT MAN TO DIE" Will it be the smiling kid with a sweetie in Blighty, or the baby-faced air "vetran" of a few hours? (Print Ad- Albany Evening Journal, ((Albany, NY)) 1 August 1930) See more »


Action | Drama | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The shots of the planes overflying and circling the field near the start of the film, as well as the series of perfect three-point landings were later used in the remake of this film, The Dawn Patrol (1938). See more »


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


Major Brand: Officious overdressed brass hat! Orders, orders. Thinks the 59th can't do it, eh? Well, the 59th can do anything he can think up! It's a slaughterhouse, that's what it is, and I'm the executioner!
See more »


Referenced in The Marathon Family (1982) See more »


Poor Butterfly
Written by Raymond Hubbell and John Golden
See more »

User Reviews

Up in the Air and Down in the Dumps
9 October 2011 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In France for World War I service, British pilots Richard Barthelmess (as Dick Courtney) and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (as Doug "Scotty" Scott) clash with commander Neil Hamilton (as Drake Brand) over his decisions to send young fliers out on suicide missions in rickety planes. But, with the Germans active nearby, Mr. Hamilton has limited options. Taking the lead, Mr. Barthelmess decides to go over Hamilton's head, completing a dangerous mission with Mr. Fairbanks co-piloting. Hamilton threatens to have him court-martialed, but a worse fate awaits Barthelmess - he is promoted to commander of the "Flight Squadron"...

Now in charge, Barthelmess must order young fliers out on suicide missions in rickety planes. Responding to his own superiors, Barthelmess includes his pal's bright-eyed young brother William Janney (as Gordon "Donny" Scott) on "The Dawn Patrol" - although it could lead to tragedy. To ease war pain, the men drink. There are few surprises in this story, which illustrates the inevitable. A little theatrical by today's standards, Barthelmess and the men perform exceptionally well. The command post scenes are vivid and the aviation exciting, with director Howard Hawks performing double duty as the dreaded "Von Richter".

******* The Dawn Patrol (7/10/30) Howard Hawks ~ Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton, William Janney

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English | German | French

Release Date:

20 August 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flight Commander See more »


Box Office


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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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