17 March 2014 | marcslope
Aerially alive, earthbound on the ground
One of a series of long-locked-up early Fox talkies I took in at Cinefest 2014 in Syracuse, this World War 1 drama chronicles the romance of a young flyer (John Garrick) and the volunteer he loves (Helen Chandler), his disgrace when he's thought to have deliberately crashed a plane to avoid serving in France, and his eventual triumph fighting off a German zeppelin over London. It never goes anywhere you don't expect, and it's handicapped by the two leads. They're chronically dull, and Chandler has a shrill, grating speaking voice; as captured by the early microphones, she sounds rather like a heldentenor. But once we're up in the air there are some pretty exciting sequences, "Wings"-like, and we do fear for our hero's safety. The World War 1 atmosphere is compromised by Ms. Chandler's flapper outfits, and even the cars are the wrong vintage. Such sloppiness conveys how frantically Fox must have been filming and learning. This one isn't very good, but if you can stay awake through the turgid storytelling you'll be rewarded with some bracing action in the air.