Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Devil Dogs of the Air (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

James Cagney and Pat O'Brien star in DEVIL DOGS OF THE AIR (1935), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

DEVIL DOGS OF THE AIR is your standard-issue Warner Bros. military training film, with a plot rather similar to the later WINGS OF THE NAVY (1939). James Cagney plays obnoxious new Marine pilot Tommy O'Toole, who shows up for training in San Diego, where his childhood friend Lt. Brannigan (Pat O'Brien) has served for years.

O'Toole immediately puts the moves on Brannigan's girlfriend, Betty (Margaret Lindsay), who's initially resistant but eventually starts to fall for O'Toole despite herself.

O'Toole's a great pilot, but his brash behavior is a challenge for Brannigan and others to deal with. Will O'Toole make good? And who will get the girl?

Cagney had charisma but I must say that it's hard to understand why the Lindsay character would consider the impulsive, obnoxious O'Toole over the mature and tender Brannigan. O'Brien is much more appealing than Cagney in this one.

This is just a moderately entertaining film, nothing very flashy or especially interesting, but I enjoy hanging out with Warner Bros. casts of the '30s and this is a fun one in that regard. The three leads all made numerous movies together, along with head supporting player Frank McHugh.

Look at the faces of aviation students surrounding Cagney at one point and you'll spot future star Dennis O'Keefe, who was a bit player in close to 200 movies in the '30s.

Seen in a bigger role as an aviation instructor is future cowboy star Bill Elliott, seen himself in dozens of bit player and extra roles in the '30s.

DEVIL DOGS OF THE AIR was directed by Lloyd Bacon and filmed by Arthur Edeson. It runs 85 minutes.

The Warner Archive DVD is a good print. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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