Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Air Hostess (1933)

AIR HOSTESS is a terribly creaky pre-Code film, made moderately worthwhile by some interesting flying sequences shot at Glendale Grand Central Air Terminal, built in 1923. It's a very short movie, running just 67 minutes, so it wasn't too hard to stick with it till the end.

I recorded the film as I enjoy stories about stewardesses in the early days of flying, but unfortunately the movie doesn't spend a great deal of time focused on the duties of the title heroine, Kitty King (Evalyn Knapp). Instead it spends far too long on Kitty's hard-drinking daredevil pilot husband, Ted (James Murray).

There are some interesting exterior shots of the Glendale Airport and early TWA planes, but it's hard to care a bit about Ted, especially once he becomes more interested in wealthy Sylvia (Thelma Todd) than his wife. Drunken husband + tearful wife = dullsville. However, the last five minutes of the film has an exciting, if melodramatic, sequence in which two planes attempt to stop a train from crossing a washed-out bridge.

The film reflects its pre-Code era in various ways, including a gratuitously violent shot during a WWI flying sequence at the start of the movie. Until the finale, though, it's pretty slow going.

Actors Murray and Todd each met sad ends at young ages, Todd in 1935, at the age of 30, and Murray in 1936, age 35.

Evalyn Knapp appeared in films until 1943, though most of her later films were bit parts. She married a doctor and passed away in 1981.

Jane Darwell and J.M. Kerrigan play Kitty's adoptive parents. Arthur Pierson is a pilot who hoped to marry Kitty himself.

AIR HOSTESS was directed by Albert S. Rogell.

AIR HOSTESS has not had a video or DVD release, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. The print was excellent considering the film's age and relative obscurity.

Update: Here's a very nice essay by David Bordwell on AIR HOSTESS and several other Columbia pre-Code films, paying particular attention to their cinematography. I've begun watching ANN CARVER'S PROFESSION (1933), also referenced in the article, and was struck by some of the same framing devices pictured in his post.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older