|CEILING ZERO (director: Howard Hawks; screenwriters: Morrie Ryskind/Frank Wead/play by Wead; cinematographer: Arthur Edeson; editor: William Holmes ; music: Bernhard Kaun; cast: James Cagney (Dizzy Davis), Pat O'Brien (Jack L. Lee), June Travis (Tommy Thomas), Stuart Erwin (Texas Clarke), Barton MacLane (Al Stone), Craig Reynolds (Joe Allen), Dick Purcell (Smiley), Carlyle Moore Jr (Eddie Payson), Isabel Jewell (Lou Clarke), Addison Richards (Fred Adams), Henry Wadsworth (Tay Lawson), Martha Tibbetts (Mrs. Mary Lee); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Hal B. Wallis/Jack L. Warner; Warner Brothers; 1936)|
entertaining adventure story of an
irresponsible but great civil airline pilot."
by Dennis Schwartz
entertaining adventure story of an irresponsible but
great civil airline pilot, which crashes as it goes
sentimental before the third act ends. Nevertheless
director Howard Hawks ("Scarface"/"His
Girl Friday"/"Rio Bravo") keeps it crackling despite
its staginess. It's based on the Broadway play by the
crippled former Navy pilot, Frank 'Spig' Wead. Looking
back, it seems to be a test run for Hawks' loftier
Only Angels Have Wings (1939). Though Cagney says it
was his favorite of the nine films he teamed up with
Davis (James Cagney) is a womanizer and a cocky,
devil-may-care, civil aviator during peacetime at
Newark Airport, delivering the mail, and Jake Lee (Pat
O'Brien) is a no-nonsense ground
commander, who soberly tries to keep his best
pilot on the square. In one instance, Dizzy romances
the attractive Tommy Thomas (June Travis), the
girlfriend of a fellow pilot, instead of showing up
for his dangerous flight assignment. Dizzy is
indirectly guilty of the death of his friend, the meek
inexperienced pilot, Tex Clarke (Stuart
Erwin), whom he switched flights with.
Dizzy's fellow pilots and Tex's outspoken brassy wife
(Isabel Jewell) let the
irresponsible pilot know that his selfish actions
ticked them off. Dizzy seeks redemption by
volunteering to fly a test flight
for an anti-icing device in fog-laden "ceiling
zero," and dies a hero.
It was remade in a wartime setting as International Squadron (1940).
REVIEWED ON 10/8/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ