Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Sky Giant (1938)

SKY GIANT is a solid RKO programmer about the aviation industry, performed by a good cast.

SKY GIANT tells the tale of a pair of flyers, played by Richard Dix and Chester Morris, who work at TWA's flight school in Glendale, California. The men are friends but also romantic rivals for the hand of lovely young Joan Fontaine; at different points she agrees to marry each of the men.

The romantic complications are resolved after the flyers, who have been mapping a new northern flying route, experience a prolonged ordeal in the Arctic which calls to mind the later film ISLAND IN THE SKY (1953).

As a matter of fact, the entire movie has a familiar feel to it. The theme of pilots who are friendly rivals has been done many times, whether in "A" pictures such as the same year's TEST PILOT (1938) or in a "B" picture like POWER DIVE (1941). SKY GIANT drew inspiration from earlier movies and also helped lay the groundwork for later films of the genre.

SKY GIANT was one of a string of RKO "B" films Joan Fontaine worked in throughout the late '30s, interrupted by a significant role as Fred Astaire's leading lady in A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (1937). In 1939 she was the leading lady of George Stevens' GUNGA DIN and had a small but notable role in George Cukor's THE WOMEN. From that point on there was no looking back for Fontaine, with back to back roles in Hitchcock's REBECCA (1940) and SUSPICION (1941), not to mention a Best Actress Oscar for the latter film.

Much of SKY GIANT was shot at Grand Central Airport in Glendale, California. Grand Central Airport was a popular movie location of the era; for example, AIR HOSTESS (1933), reviewed here a couple of years ago, was filmed at the same airport.

SKY GIANT was directed by Lew Landers. It was filmed by Nicholas Musuraca, who would go on to shoot RKO classics such as CAT PEOPLE (1942) and OUT OF THE PAST (1947). The supporting cast includes Harry Carey Sr. and Paul Guilfoyle. Vicki Lester, recently seen in another 1938 Fontaine film, MAID'S NIGHT OUT (1938), plays Carey's secretary.

SKY GIANT has been shown on Turner Classic Movies. It is not currently available on VHS or DVD.

Viewers such as myself who enjoy films with an aviation setting will likely find SKY GIANT a diverting 80 minutes.


Blogger Cliff Aliperti said...

I enjoyed this one also. Nothing special, but entertaining. And the two toughest jawlines in all of Hollywood!

10:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Exactly. Just a nice solid little movie with a good cast in a pleasant story. Glad you enjoyed it too!

Best wishes,

10:33 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I think it a stretch to call GAble and Tracy in Test Pilot friendly rivals. They are friends and Gable is clearly on his own without "competition from Tracy with women. Tracy is wonderful in the film but clearly an acolyte. Leperello to Don Juan.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for your feedback, Barrylane! It's been quite a while since my last viewing of TEST PILOT, and it appears my memories were a little too vague. :) Perhaps describing this type of film as flying "buddy" movies, with rivalry optional, would be more apt!

Best wishes,

1:55 PM  

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