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Jim Lane is a test pilot, whose professional life is dangerous, and whose personal life compensates for that danger by fast living and recklessness. As such, he lives from paycheck to paycheck, and is often in debt, but knows his lucrative job will eventually get him out of those debts. On a coast to coast record attempt speed flight, Jim's plane, the Drake Bullet (named after the company's owner), hits some mechanical problems and Jim is forced to make an emergency landing on a farmer's field in Kansas. The farm belongs to the Barton family, whose straight talking daughter, Ann Barton, falls for Jim, and visa versa. They impulsively decide to get married and live in New York. Jim's sidekick and mechanic, "Gunner" Morris, doesn't know if Jim and marriage go hand in hand, both because of the type of person he is and his profession. Ann too soon learns that she plays second fiddle to Jim's work, she referring to the sky as Jim's mistress. Ann also truly comes to understand the dangers ...Written by
The aircraft that Clark Gable tested and ripped the wings off was a Northrop Gamma, Northrop serial numbers 189 through 290, U.S. Army Air Corps designation A-17A with serial numbers 36-162 to 36-261. These aircraft were ordered in December 1935 and were delivered between August 1936 and December 1937. In 1932, Northrop had become a subsidiary of the Douglas Aircraft Company and in 1937, it was reorganized as the El Segundo Division of Douglas. One hundred twenty nine A-17As were ordered but only 93 served with the Army Air Corps for 18 months. The 93 were released for sale to France in 1940 and refurbished by Douglas; 61 were transferred to the Royal Air Force after France surrendered to the Germans and were named Nomad Mk. I. The RAF considered these aircraft as obsolete and 57 were assigned to the South African Air Force as trainers. The remaining 32 went to the Royal Canadian Air Force and served exclusively for training purposes as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. See more »
Early in the movie, the "Drake Bullet" plane which Jim Lane is piloting springs an oil leak, which blows back on the cowling and side of the plane, clearly staining it with black oil. However, when we see the plane land in the Kansas wheat field and taxi to a stop, the side of the plane now has no signs of any oil stains whatsoever. But when the camera angle goes to a close-up of Jim climbing out of the plane, varying degrees of the oil stains on the side of the plane are again visible. See more »
Test Pilot surprised me with how good it is. As a love story, I rank it right up there with The Way We Were.
Clark Gable plays a test pilot, Jim, who lives hard and fast. Like many who live on the edge, he is superstitious and has an addictive personality. To cope with the risks he must take, he never deals with his feelings and drowns his fears in excesses of liquor and women.
Then he meets Ann, played by Myrna Loy--a fresh-faced, wisecracking Kansas girl who falls hard for the guy. Likewise, he falls for her and before you know it, they are married.
After they are married, Ann learns quickly what life with Jim must be like. It is a harsh reality that she cannot shake; she loves the mug.
Jim's sidekick is Gunner, a guy who also loves him but has learned to cope with Jim's short-sighted view of life. When Ann enters the picture, it becomes more than he can bear; he can endure his own pain, but cannot stand to witness hers.
We see a love story that can only end in pain, made all the more painful because all three characters are lovable.
The writing in this movie is among the best I have seen. There is not a false note in the entire film. It's difficult to write this kind of banter without making it seem false or shallow. Later in the film, when the going gets tougher, the writing conveys the feelings deep within even when they are talking only about the mundane.
It has been written that Myrna Loy liked this film best of all she acted in. Personally, I would give her the Best Actress award for this performance, though she was not even nominated.
Gable holds his own. And Tracy plays Gunner with a convincing subtlety.
Victor Fleming, who directed The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind the very next year, had another winner in this one. I am surprised it does not get much mention.
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