Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Flight From Glory (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

FLIGHT FROM GLORY (1937), an excellent RKO "B" film, has just been released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

I was quite taken with this film when I first saw it in 2013, and revisiting it via the new DVD has cemented my admiration. This 67-minute film about South American pilots foreshadows Howard Hawks' classic ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939) and is a compelling watch in its own right.

Disgraced U.S. pilot George Wilson (Van Heflin) can't believe his luck when he lands a job with a South American company, flying supplies to remote mines. George and his bride Lee (Whitney Bourne) arrive in South America only to learn that the top planes promised are actually decrepit deathtraps.

What's more, Ellis (Onslow Stevens), who runs the operation, has a scheme so that pilots are immediately so indebted to him that they're virtually trapped, without funds to leave the country.

Paul Smith (Chester Morris), the most respected of the pilots, offers financial help for Lee to return to the U.S., but she's determined to support her husband despite the miserable living conditions and daily safety fears. Unfortunately George falls apart under the pressure and takes to drinking. After one too many planes crack up, George eventually retaliates against Ellis in shocking fashion.

Director Lew Landers, cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, the set designers and cast combine their talents to create a rich atmosphere with just a couple of sets and an "airport" situated somewhere in the Greater L.A. area.

Chester Morris is especially good in this, playing a brusque pilot with a hard shell whose tender care of a little dog which accompanies him everywhere hints at a warmer interior life.

Bourne, who appeared in a handful of films over a half decade in the '30s, is also quite good as the wife who at first seems too aristocratic for her new environment, yet she surprises both the men and the viewer as she jumps into her new life without complaint, attempting to raise her husband's spirits and working to fix up their lone room.

Heflin, in his third film, looks amazingly young here, in the kind of role he'd return to later in his career. The supporting cast includes Richard Lane, Paul Guilfoyle, Solly Ward, and Douglas Walton.

The screenplay by David Silverstein and John Twist was based on a story by Robert D. Andrews.

The Warner Archive DVD is a fine print of this black and white film. 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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I passed on this one but I think I need to give it another look. Thanks for the excellent review Laura (as always!)

9:04 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

The title seemed only vaguely familiar, but reading your review brought back a rush of memories, and all of them good. I'm beginning to think it just may be possible that I have watched too many movies, having forgotten this excellent film.

11:24 AM  

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