Tuesday, April 22, 2008


A variation on the Warner Brothers pilot-buddy films of the 30's. This stars William Gargan as famous pilot Ace Boreman who is treated to an NYC ticker-tape parade (strictly B-movie scale) for setting a flying record. Next on his plate is judging in an all-female flight derby from California to Cleveland; hoping to win that derby is Kay Francis, a woman who was taught to fly by her brother, an old friend of Gargan's who is now a cripple. She wants to win the cash prize to pay for an operation for him which her family doctor (Victor Jory, in a rare good-guy part) is certain will help him. Francis, without telling Gargan who she really is, sweet talks her way into a plane and pulls some showboating moves in the air, and an impressed Gargan loans her a plane to use in the derby. They also begin a flirtation, though she overhears him tell his pal Maxie Rosenbloom that his motto is, "Feed 'em, fly 'em, forget 'em!" Meanwhile, the woman Gargan assumed was his ex-wife (Sheila Bromley) returns with the news that their Mexican divorce wasn't legal, and she enters the derby, claiming Gargan's plane. He manages to get Francis a different plane, but at the halfway point in the race, a mechanic friend of Bromley's (Frank Faylen) tinkers with Francis' plane, putting her in mortal danger in the air. Now it's not just a matter of winning, but of surviving a gas leak and the loss of a landing wheel. After hogging most of the first half of the movie, Gargan becomes second fiddle to Francis and her adventures. At this point in their careers, he was still more or less on the way up, getting an Oscar nomination the very next year for They Knew What They Wanted, and she was on the way down, but she gives the more impressive performance, though the two don't have much romantic chemistry. Eve Arden is good as Francis' flying sidekick, as is Eddie Foy Jr. doing the same for Gargan. The flying scenes are mostly quite well done, and there was apparently some location shooting done at a real Cleveland air derby. At 63 minutes, it's just the right length for a breezy second feature. [TCM]


Craig Clarke said...

I like your take on this Kay Francis movie I haven't seen. The inclusion of Eve Arden in the cast definitely makes this a must-see; Arden was terrific in everything, and especially as a "sidekick."

Michael said...

Thanks. By coincidence, I just posted a review of another Kay Francis film, Charley's Aunt. She doesn't have a large role, but she's good.