EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|THE DAWN PATROL (director/writer: Howard Hawks; screenwriters: from the story "The Flight Commander" by John Monk Saunders/Dan Totheron/Seton Miller; cinematographer: Ernest Haller; editors: Ray Curtiss/Hugh Bennett; music: Leo Forbstein/Rex Dunn; cast: Richard Barthelmess (Dick Courtney), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Douglas Scott), Neil Hamilton (Maj. Brand), William Janney (Gordon Scott), James Finlayson (Field Sergeant), Clyde Cook (Bott), Gardner James (Ralph Hollister), Edmund Breon (Lt. Phipps), Frank McHugh (Flaherty), Howard Hawks (Von Richter); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert North; WB Archive Collection; 1930)|
a certain power because of its great aerial footage."
by Dennis Schwartz
woman-less war drama is the first talkie by Howard
Hawks ("I Was A Male War Bride"/"Red River"/"The Big
Sleep"). It's based on the story "The Flight
Commander" by John Monk Saunders, and is
written by Hawks, Dan Totheron and Seton
Miller. Hampered by inadequate talkie
technology, stilted dialogue and wooden acting, the
creaky pic nevertheless retains a certain power
because of its great aerial footage, used again for
the 1938 remake that starred Errol Flynn and David
Niven. Though the remake proves to be the superior
film, upon its release Hawks' pic was quite
well-received at the box office and got across its
point about the horrors of war as the audiences
marveled at the aerial dog-fight footage.
1915, during World War I, in France,
stressed-out Major Brand (Neil Hamilton),
commander of the 59th British Squadron,
is sickened that he loses so many flyers in the
regular near-suicidal missions over Germany. The
squadron's ace pilots are the old veteran squadron leader Dick
and the new young brash hotshot Douglas Scott (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.).
Brand is bounced upstairs
to headquarters for a promotion and his command is
turned over to Courtney. Thinking Brand lacked the
guts to be commander, Courtney soon thinks differently when he
realizes the job's responsibilities to all the men and
begins to drink heavily to cover up his heavy heart at
the losses. He even gets into a feud with Scott
because his best friend's newly arrived flyer green
brother Gordon (William Janney) is killed on a mission.
The flyers survive with a
gallows humor, singing songs at the rowdy pub that are
dedicated to the next man who perishes and maintaining
a mentally of next man up when one of their comrades
The pic concludes with a
stunning dog-fight between the German ace Von Richter (Howard Hawks), the one who shot down
Gordon, and Courtney, as the Brit pilot avenges the
death of Gordon in a secret mission as he gets Scott
drunk so he can take his place.
REVIEWED ON 4/23/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ