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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"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 »
Director Howard Hawks, who was a pilot in the US Army during World War I, flew in the battle scenes as a German pilot. See more »
When Courtney is signaling Scott before attacking the German base, you can see the plane in the background superimposed on all the foreground elements, including Courtney. See more »
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!
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This fine movie directed by Howard Hawks is more potent for its absolutely dazzling aerial photography and filming, one of the best I've ever seen - much better than the eighties Top Gun. First, let me say the late twenties to late thirties was the height of what is known as the Aviator movie. Many hits were scored using this genre including this one which was a blockbuster in 1930. The thirties aviator movies in their flight sequences have a certain feeling to them. They are so realistic in look, and this is achieved without music being used, but just the whirring of the engines gaggling, give it a prescient omniprescence that advances in movie technology, Digital imagery and CGI can't duplicate. I mean, any of the thirties aviator pictures sparkle in their flight segments. It must be the way they were shot. I wonder what technique was used. The story for this movie which won an Oscar was written by John Monk Saunders who obviously knew the genre well. He also wrote Wings, the first Academy award winner, Legion of the Condemned, an even bigger hit than Wings with Gary Cooper, Devil Dogs of the Air and West Point of the Air. The leads are Richard Barthelmess and Doug Fairbanks jr. Barthelmess gives the real performance here while Fairbanks gives the movie star performance. They are involved in WWI and are ace pilots and best of friends. The film has a pandemic tone and regurgitating pace that feeds the ennui of war. Like the pilots of Top Gun, they tend to go against orders given by their boss, silent screen leading man, Neil Hamilton who has the tough job of sending men on their missions, missions in which lives will surely be lost. He doesn't like it but he has to follow orders. That is the theme of the movie, obeying and serving your job because it is necessary. Life is hard and fulfilling your function/role against all odds is rote. Tough choices have to be made for the greater good. Cliche but true. That is the irony of war and when one falls, another must takes his place. Barthelmess eventually takes Hamilton's job and in his shoes feels the pressures the man felt and the toughness of following necessary orders. It is not an anti-war movie, more than it is a WAR IS HELL! but heaven is only one more day of hell away. Slow because of early talkie cameras which needed absolute silence to be recorded and were static without any movement, but sets are highly believable and bombing raids uncharacteristically realistic. Dialogue though is a bit pedestrian with certain heavy-handed moments, in today's glare, and performances not up to par in certain areas but overall, a fine movie.
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