Tuesday, November 05, 2002


This is a nifty little B-film that anticipates ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS, a better movie made a year or two later. Virtually the entire film takes place in one setting, an isolated airfield in the Andes Mountains (looking a lot like California--ANGELS, with its bigger budget, gets the look much better) where a group of rough and tumble pilots, mostly disgraced ones who couldn't get better jobs in the States, engage in the dangerous job of flying supplies to miners in the mountains. Onslow Stevens is the boss, a creepy and miserly man who keeps a scrapbook of high-profile pilots who have gotten in trouble so he can offer them jobs--there is high turnover due to the dangerous flying conditions and the poor quality of the planes they use. Chester Morris is the unoffical leader of the pilots.

One day, Van Heflin arrives with his wife (Whitney Bourne); we're supposed to realize it's a mistake to bring a woman into this setting, although the tough-guy pilots are really too nice to be threatening. Still, entanglements follow as Morris falls in love with her, and so does Douglas Walton (a sort of second-string Leslie Howard-type). Heflin, a reformed drunk, starts out fine but when he realizes the situation he's stuck in, he deterioriates rapidly. Injury, death, and revenge follow. Despite the low budget, some of the flying scenes aren't bad. Morris is his usual self--if you don't already like him, this movie won't make you a fan, but if you do like him, as I do, you should catch this one the next time TCM shows it. Comparisons with ANGELS are inevitable, and this one will always come in second, but it's not bad for its type.

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