Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Flying Blind (1941)

FLYING BLIND is a Pine-Thomas Production starring Richard Arlen and Jean Parker.

For readers who are new to Pine-Thomas Productions, the company made "B" movies released by Paramount throughout the '40s; in the early '40s the movies most frequently starred varied combinations of Arlen, Parker, Chester Morris, or Nancy Kelly.

The Pine-Thomas movies tend to be on the low end qualitywise, but I enjoy checking out one of the titles every so often; I like Morris and Parker, in particular, and the short running times make it easy to slip one into the schedule.

I enjoy aviation films so I thought FLYING BLIND sounded like fun, but unfortunately it proved to be an especially weak title. The movie couldn't decide if it was a comedy or a drama, and it failed on both counts.

Pilot Jim Clark (Arlen) and stewardess Shirley Brooks (Parker) start up Honeymoon Airlines, a one-plane operation which flies couples from Southern California to Las Vegas to get hitched. Jim takes lovelorn Shirley for granted, so she becomes engaged to Bob (Dick Purcell).

While flying newlyweds (Grady Sutton and Marie Wilson) home from Vegas, the plane is hijacked by enemy spies and crash lands -- then manages to take off again just before a raging forest fire engulfs the plane.

This plot should have been a lot more fun than it was, but the execution was quite poor, making it a long 69 minutes. (As a matter of fact, I think the Alpha DVD ran a little shorter than that -- but it seemed longer!) The movie would have completely keeled over and died without the presence of perky Jean Parker, the movie's one saving grace.

One of the film's oddities is that Parker plays an extended sequence working in the office and talking on the phone while wearing a hat with a veil covering her entire face; the veil is light, but I got to wondering if there was some necessity for the veil, perhaps to mask a problem with Parker's face that shooting day, or if it was just an offbeat wardrobe choice.

FLYING BLIND was directed by Frank McDonald and shot by Fred Jackman Jr. The musical score, believe it or not, was by Dimitri Tiomkin. THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954) this ain't.

The supporting cast included Eddie Quillan, Kay Sutton, Nils Asther, Roger Pryor, Charlotte Henry, and James Seay.

The part of "Boots," the telephone operator, is not listed by IMDb; the character was seen only in profile, and I was trying to figure out if it was Ann Doran. I'm still not sure; perhaps it was Gayle Mellott, who is listed as having a "Bit Role" and was the right age.

Like the other Pine-Thomas movies, FLYING BLIND fell into the public domain. The Alpha DVD, which is a soft but watchable print, can be rented from ClassicFlix.

You can also catch the movie in its entirety on YouTube. Trust me, though, unless one is a Parker fan or there's another good reason to see it, this one is eminently skippable -- something I don't say about many films!

Previous Pine-Thomas films reviewed here are POWER DIVE (1941), which starred Arlen and Parker, NO HANDS ON THE CLOCK (1941) starring Morris and Parker, WRECKING CREW (1942) with Arlen, Morris, and Parker, and DOUBLE EXPOSURE (1944), teaming Morris with Kelly.


Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Just a note that Pine-Thomas did go on into the 1950s, releasing through Paramount. The movies then tend to be exotic adventure tales and Westerns, and some of them are very good--I'm especially thinking of RUN FOR COVER (1955), an excellent Western starring no less than James Cagney along with Viveca Lindfors and John Derek, and directed by the great Nicholas Ray, preceding as his next movie REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.

I haven't seen the one you are writing about.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I'm sorry, I couldn't get past "...newlyweds (Grady Sutton and Marie Wilson...". I re-read that line half a dozen times. Grady Sutton and Marie Wilson? I can't decide if that's the stupidest couple ever, the least likely, or a perfect match.
I will be watching this on YouTube. Thanks for the link and the heads-up. I mean...Grady Sutton and Marie Wilson...the mind boggles!

8:48 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much for adding that Pine-Thomas info to the discussion, Blake! I've never seen REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.

Rick, Grady and Marie are definitely both the stupidest couple ever and a perfect match in this. If you're a fan, it's probably worth checking out for them even though it's a poorly made film.

Best wishes,

9:13 AM  
Blogger Kevin Deany said...

A Dmitri Tiomkin title I was not aware of. It's off to You Tube I am.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Moira Finnie said...

I've had a bit of a soft spot for Jean Parker since seeing her communing so tenderly with a fawn and a cougar in SEQUOIA (1935) a few years ago, so I might just have to seek this one out. Grady Sutton and anyone is worth a look too. Thanks for bringing this movie to my attention, Laura.

4:10 PM  
Blogger john knight said...

I have never seen any of the B pictures Pine Thomas made for Paramount but I
would sure like too.I am of course more than aware of their much larger budget
A pictures that they went on to make in the Fifties.
I would say that RUN FOR COVER in the jewel in the Pine-Thomas crown though I
understand both Cagney and Ray never thought much of the film;although they
really enjoyed working together.
Another really good one is HELLS ISLAND directed by Phil Karlson.
As Blake says most of their films were Westerns or exotic adventure tales.
Several of them I really like especially THE BLAZING FOREST and CARIBBEAN.
The Pine Thomas film that I really want to see is MANHANDLED with the dynamic
star trio of Dorothy Lamour,Dan Duryea and Sterling Hayden.
CAPTAIN CHINA also directed by Lewis R Foster is a great maritime Noir
with John Payne and lovely Gail Russell. There is an extremely brutal extended
fight between Payne and Lon Chaney.
I was never a fan of their Westerns (except RUN FOR COVER) most I found bloated
and overlong.
Olive Films have released THE LAWLESS and RUN FOR COVER but I really wish they
would release a few more.
I mentioned on a previous thread that I am sad Olive are not releasing Republic
A Westerns. The sort of films that I am interested in seeing are their A pictures
starring the likes of William Elliott,Rod Cameron,Forrest Tucker,John Payne and
Sterling Hayden. I was very annoyed that Olive,for some reason decided not to
Olive do like to like their Noirs so I can see no reason why they do not consider
MANHANDLED,CAPTAIN CHINA and HELLS ISLAND. The latter is a very much sought after title.
I live in hope that Warner Archive may some day come to the rescue with some of
these films now that they seem to have some sort of deal with Paramount.
I would certainly buy all the titles mentioned even though I have decent "off air"
copies of most of them.
Blake,if you are out there I hope you saw my comment on FLIGHT NURSE over at
Colins World!

6:50 AM  
Blogger john knight said...

Just been over to the Warner Archive Facebook page and someone has requested
TRIPOLI (1950) starring Maureen O Hara and John Payne and one of the few
Pine-Thomas films that I have never seen!
Its pretty cool that someone else remembers their pictures.
This Warner Archive Paramount deal is confusing everyone,at the moment
The Archive only have the rights to out of print Paramount titles;
I sure hope this changes!
Laura,I can only comment here using Google Chrome,for some reason
and as I am going to London for a couple of weeks soon I do not know if
I will be able to comment on your wonderful blog.
At least I will be able to take notes and cover all my comments in
one marathon post..........I think!

7:22 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Kevin, glad I could point you to a lesser-known Tiomkin title! YouTube sure makes it convenient to see these public domain films.

Moira, it's wonderful to hear from you!! Hope all is well with you. I have had a soft spot for Parker since first seeing her as Beth in LITTLE WOMEN many moons ago. I recorded SEQUOIA, need to watch it!

Best wishes,

7:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John!

Thanks for the alert that MANHANDLED was a Pine-Thomas film, I recorded it but haven't watch it yet, and wasn't aware of that connection.

I really wish Olive would release A MAN ALONE, in particular. Encore Westerns showed a beautiful print and it seems like Westerns sell pretty well along with noir...maybe they don't think a Ray Milland Western will sell? It's frustrating.

How interesting you can only comment here with one browser, John, I hope that changes! In the meantime have a great trip to London, it's my favorite city and I'm envious! :) :)

Best wishes,

7:40 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

John, I saw your comments at Colin's on FLIGHT NURSE and made further comment there. I hope you stayed with that for reading and I appreciated that we are both so strong for CANYON PASSAGE (as we know Laura is as well).

Re Pine-Thomas, as my earlier comments suggest, RUN FOR COVER is the standout for me too, but I think THE LAWLESS is very impressive and an unusual film for them. Also HELL'S ISLAND--though I don't remember it well now and would really like to see it again. I hope it does get rescued.

You are far from alone in yearning for those Republic Westerns with stars like Rod Cameron, William Elliott, Forrest Tucker, et al. and with directors like Joe Kane, another who is still underrated. I've seen my share but am also missing so many--something to look forward to I hope. Not a Western John but did you ever see Kane's FAIR WIND TO JAVA?

10:51 AM  
Blogger john knight said...

Hi Laura and Blake,

I am beginning to wonder if Olive are selling enough Westerns
(apart from The Duke of course)
Not only did they withdraw the two Republic titles mentioned
but also two of the Paramount titles that they were going
to release: THE SAVAGE and WARPATH.
Both films are really good and again I was really looking
forward to them.
Wow! its so cool that you love London I am a Muswell Hillbilly
by birth and lived in London for 62 years.I have to go back
there every year just to re-connect with my "roots"
Blake I did enjoy FAIR WIND TO JAVA and thought Vera Ralston,
who many people do not seem to like;was very good in the film.
It gave a a much tougher Fred MacMurray than we are used to.
It is a shame that all those Republic titles are in limbo with
no-one interested in releasing them.They would fit in so well
with what Warner Archive are doing with the Monogram/
Allied Artists titles.
THE LAWLESS is excellent and an offbeat film for Pine-Thomas.
I hope to catch MANHANDLED soon as it was just as Pine-Thomas
were branching into A movies after years churning out Bs for

7:03 AM  

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