DIRECTED BY EDMUND GOULDING
MUSIC BY MAX STEINER
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
In 1915 France, Major Brand commands the 39th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps.
The young airmen go up in bullet-riddled "crates" and the casualty rate is appalling,
but Brand can't make the "brass hats" at headquarters see reason.
Insubordinate air ace Captain Courtney is another thorn
in Brand's side...but finds the smile wiped from his face when he rises
to command the squadron himself.
Everyone keeps a stiff upper lip.
Written by Rod Crawford
Errol Flynn ... Courtney
Basil Rathbone ... Major Brand
David Niven ... Scott
Donald Crisp ... Phipps
Melville Cooper ... Sgt. Watkins
Barry Fitzgerald ... Bott
Carl Esmond ... Hauptmann Von Mueller
Peter Willes ... Hollister
Morton Lowry ... Donnie Scott
Michael Brooke ... Capt. Squires
James Burke ... Flaherty
Stuart Hall ... Bentham
Herbert Evans ... Mechanic
Sidney Bracey ... Major Brand's Orderly (as Sidney Bracy)
Leo Nomis ... Aeronautic Supervisor
Robert Lord ... associate producer (uncredited)
Hal B. Wallis ... executive producer (uncredited)
Jack L. Warner ... executive producer (uncredited)
Tony Gaudio ... (photography)
Seton I. Miller ... (screen play) and
Dan Totheroh ... (screen play)
John Monk Saunders ... (from an original story by)
Howard Hawks ... (story) (uncredited)
The filmmakers needed several shots of the planes taking off and landing.
They assembled a squadron of 17 vintage WW1 aircraft, most of them Nieuports.
Flying them proved just as hazardous as in WW1.
By the time filming ended, stunt flyers had crashed 15 of them.
The name Von Richter is obviously a reference to Manfred von Richtofen,
the iconic World War I German ace, who was nicknamed "The Red Baron" by friend and foe.
Most of the aerial footage comes from Warner Bros.' previous 1930 version
(The Dawn Patrol (1930)).
One of the Nieuports used in the movie is now on display
at the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker Alabama.
Maj. Brand, played by Basil Rathbone, is seen wearing the ribbon for the Military Cross.
Rathbone himself was awarded this medal for bravery during the First World War
as a second lieutenant.
Capt. Courtney (Errol Flynn) and later Lt. Scott (David Niven)
are also seen with ribbons, but Flynn and Niven were too young to serve in the war.
Niven attended Sandhurst Military Academy and then served for two years on Malta.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, he returned to England and re-joined the army.
Flynn's weak heart got him a 4-F deferment and he never served during the war,
a fact he always said he regretted.
Courtney (Errol Flynn) says that his father was a professor of biology at Queen's.
In fact, Errol Flynn's father, Theodore Thomson Flynn,
was a professor of biology, first at the University of Tasmania
and later at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In Tasmania he did pioneering work on the declining population of the thylacine,
or "Tasmanian wolf", which went extinct in 1936.
Niven and Crisp are also both in Wuthering Heights
As Scott (David Niven) puts on his spotted pyjama top,
he says "Call me early, mother darling, for I'm to be Queen of the May".
This is an abbreviated quote from the poem, "The May Queen" by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
("You must wake and call me early, call me early,
mother dear; ... [2 lines omitted] ... For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother,
I'm to be Queen o' the May.")
There was a real 59th Squadron (referred to as No. 59 Squadron)
in the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War. Formed in 1916,
it was deployed to France in 1917, flying R.E.8s (not the Nieuports seen in the film).
The R.E.8 was a two-seater bombing reconnaissance aircraft
The opening shot identifies the time as 1915.
From the first, the song played over and over on the phonograph is "Poor Butterfly."
Sources seem to agree that this song was not published until 1916,
and not recorded until later still.
(at around 1 min) Phipps is writing a letter of condolence to the mother
of a recruit who has been killed in action.
As he stops writing to talk with Major Brand,
he switches his pen from his right hand to his left hand and removes his glasses
with his right hand.
In the next shot, his pen is back in his right hand and his glasses are in his left hand.
The amount of oil and dirt on Courtney's face changes several times between scenes.
The most obvious is when he goes up stairs to console another pilot who has lost a friend.
As he goes up his face is slightly dirty, as he enters the room
it is noticeably dirtier and when he comes back down it is much cleaner.
When Captain Courtney is rescued, he jumps on the wing and hangs onto the strut.
When the actual aircraft takes off, the dummy used is much further forward
on the wing than Captain Courtney was.
In the beginning the planes shown landing and the planes that taxi
up to the hangers are different.
The amount of engine oil on Flynn's face.
During the final mission by Errol Flynn, four German planes take off to pursue him.
However, one plane simply disappears.
There are only three planes that attack him. He shoots down two,
including Von Richter, but is killed by the third.
Calabasas, California, USA
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