Night Flight (1933)

Passed   |    |  Drama

Night Flight (1933) Poster

Polio breaks out in Rio de Janeiro, the serum is in Santiago and there's only one way to get the medicine where it's desperately needed: flown in by daring pilots who risk the treacherous weather and forbidding peaks of the Andes.


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13 August 2012 | wes-connors
| Trouble in the Air
The final part of the prologue describes the basic plot: "This picture is based on an incident from the archives of South American aviation. It took place on the eve of fulfillment of that long-cherished dream by the pioneers - regular flight by night. The entire action takes place in twenty four hours…"

In Rio de Janeiro, bedridden Buster Phelps may die because his hospital has run out of the serum needed to keep the little boy alive. The desperately needed medicine is to be flown in from a hospital in Santiago, Chile. The first leg of the trip is given to pilot Robert Montgomery (as Auguste Pellerin), who encounters dangerous flying conditions. Rookie pilot Clark Gable (as Jules Fabian) also treads dangerous airwaves, while wife Helen Hayes frets over dinner. Another wife, Myrna Loy, worries the last leg of the trip could kill husband William Gargan. On the ground, the mission is controlled by hard-nosed Trans-Andean Airlines director John Barrymore (as Riviere), who must also keep itchy airline inspector Lionel Barrymore (as Robineau) at bay...

This star-studded offering from MGM, David O. Selznick and Clarence Brown must have disappointed many contemporary viewers. There are some exciting sequences, but narrative and characterizations are weak...

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who wrote the original 1931 book, disliked this adaptation enough to prevent its distribution until Turner Classic Movies (TCM) obtained permission to screen "Night Flight" during their 2011 "TCM Classic Film Festival". It was also released on home video and had a world premiere showing on the TCM TV channel August 10, 2012. While not a great film, banishing "Night Flight" for this length of time was far too harsh.

****** Night Flight (10/6/33) Clarence Brown ~ John Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable

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