User Reviews (8)

Add a Review

  • A couple of zany HIGH FLYERS find themselves involved in the hunt for missing stolen diamonds.

    The wonderfully funny team of Wheeler & Woolsey (Bert Wheeler is the little guy with curly hair; Robert Woolsey is the skinny fellow with glasses & cigar) provide lots of solid laughs in this fast moving comedy crime caper. Of course, crash-landing on a millionaire's estate inhabited by peppery Lupe Velez, lovely Marjorie Lord & the monumental Margaret Dumont might raise anyone's spirits.

    Jack Carson is hanging around as a crooked reporter, while an exasperated Paul Harvey tries to figure out why his household is suddenly so topsy-turvy. Maybe it has something to do with the trio of gentlemanly criminals - Charles Judels, Lucien Prival & Herbert Evans - who have arrived, hot on the Boys' trail.

    Lupe & Woolsey perform a wildly exuberant gaucho number, while a solo Velez gets to do devastating impressions of her Hollywood rivals Dolores Del Rio & Simone Simon. Not to be outdone, Wheeler is terrific mimicking Charlie Chaplin & Bill Robinson. Dumont, meanwhile, provides chuckles as a matron infatuated with crystal gazing.

    Ultimately, though, HIGH FLYERS is rather bittersweet, as it was the last Wheeler & Woolsey film. First brought together by Flo Ziegfeld for Broadway's Rio Rita, the Boys had starred in 22 features from 1929 until 1937, carving out a unique niche in the history of movie comedy.

    Tragically, however, even while filming for HIGH FLYERS was underway, Robert Woolsey was already stricken with kidney failure. After a year of horrible suffering, he died on October 31, 1938. He was only 50 years old.

    Bert Wheeler continued on in films for awhile, making a handful of unremarkable movies. But the spark that came from his association with Robert Woolsey was gone. When, at the age of 72, Wheeler died on January 18, 1968 from emphysema, it was more than 30 years since the release of the final Wheeler & Woolsey film. The Boys - energetic, hilarious & ever so eager to please - had slipped into almost complete cinematic obscurity.
  • didi-56 August 2009
    'High Flyers' marked the end of the partnership between Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, which had begun eight years earlier with 'Rio Rita'.

    Although their films had been hit and miss for a while, this one really is pretty awful. It's only just over an hour long, but your attention still wanders. Robert Woolsey is clearly not well (and indeed this was his last appearance before his early death), and although he has a musical number with peppy Lupe Velez, it doesn't have much go in it.

    Slightly better is Wheeler's Chaplin impersonation which comes from his music hall days. 'High Flyers' is sort of worth watching for this, but you won't remember much about the rest of the film, and it is far worse in quality than most of their other work.

    A sad way to end their association, really. Wheeler made a few more films, including 'Las Vegas Nights' and 'The Cowboy Quarterback', but never again regained the success he had with Woolsey in the early days of RKO.
  • malcolmgsw11 July 2005
    I have long been a fan of this pair.More for the characters than the actual humour.After all the jokes are rarely funny now.I have only just seen this final film of theirs,and i have to say that this is a sad finale to a double act which i have much enjoyed.I think that RKO must have had their doubts because they have cast Lupe Velez,presumably to bolster the laughs.Unfortunately it does not work.She is on one level the boys on another.This film even manages to make the great Margaret Dumont seem unfunny.Also i have to say that poor Robert Woolsey seems to be quite strained,if you look at his face.Sadly,it isn't funny and is a poor epitaph.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wheeler and Woolsey make their final joint film appearance in a last hurrah, a final farce with a few more funny gags than normal which return them to racier material. Dorothy Lee is gone, replaced by classy Marjorie Lord and adding in quite a different style of leading lady-the formidable Lupe Velez, aka The Mexican Spitfire. The plot concerns two clowns who end up at Paul Harvey and Margaret Dumont's estate, searching for missing jewels and outwitting a group of thieves. Velez adds her usual amount of malapropisms, basically playing Carmelita as a maid and the boys in place of Leon Errol. She is terrific here, having an energy and vitality that shows why she was a fan favorite for years, The three play very well off each other and are aided by a cute little jack russell pooch who gets a great visual gag at the end.

    Initially seen working at a carnival in an odd looking flying machine, the boys are at first idiotic saps used for their stupidity but prove like smoke followed by fire that stupidity is usually hiding a sense that geniuses can't understand. Dumont (complete with crystal ball) and Harvey add amusing elements to their uppity rich folk while Jack Carson is his usual cynical wise-cracking self. Harvey is particularly funny as he expects a few policemen to show up, and he ends up with practically the whole force. His slow burn when one final single policeman comes into the room is a classic moment of silent anger.

    Obviously filmed on standing art deco sets usually used for either musicals or screwball comedies, this is Wheeler and Woolsey's most lavish looking film since 1934's Hips Hips Hooray! A cute little pool set dance number, "Keep your head above Water", is another highlight. Velez gets a show-stopping number, imitating her rival, Dolores Del Rio, complete with sneer, and Shirley Temple. Unlike other Wheeler and Woolsey films, this is lacking in their usual verbal wit, but the physical comedy makes up for it.
  • This is the last Wheeler and Woolsey film, as Robert Woolsey died of kidney disease soon after this film was completed. And in light of this, this is a very sad way to end the team's career. While I will agree that Wheeler and Woolsey were not a particularly funny team compared to the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy, they were capable of making better films than this. Perhaps Woolsey's illness helped to make this film to dreadfully unfunny, but regardless of why, this is a film so bad that only the Ritz Brothers might have been able to make so unfunny a film in this era (they were like a "poor man's Wheeler and Woolsey").

    The bottom line is that the film never really made me smile or laugh. So many of the snappy lines from Woolsey never seemed to have punchlines or points--it was just "blathering". A very tiresome and unfunny film with so little energy it just isn't worth seeing unless you are a die-hard fan.
  • Some false advertising on the part of Wheeler&Woolsey as they run a carnival airplane ride leads the boys into a peck of trouble. Bert Wheeler is advertised as an air ace giving flying lessons.

    This bit reminded of a Monk episode where Tony Shalhoub says he can swim because he took a correspondence course. Wheeler has read all on the subject of aviation but he's never flown and even Woolsey didn't know that.

    So how stupid does that make crook Jack Carson who is trying to steal some valuable jewels arriving by ship from Europe? Carson's man steals them on ship and drops them over in a life preserver. Bert is supposed to take a seaplane over the spot they are dropped, retrieve them and give them to Carson who is to meet them on another boat. He says it's valuable pictures.

    Anyway the boys make a mess of it when it's a police seaplane they steal and then after retrieving the swag get taken in by millionaire Paul Harvey, wife Margaret Dumont and daughter Marjorie Lord. With cops and Carson looking for them and the family dog stealing and burying the jewels the whole steps on the edge of absurdity.

    Sadly this was Wheeler&Woolsey's last film with Bob dying a year later. And even more sad is that they seem to have been forgotten.

    A pity because this film had some gems. Bert does a homage to Charlie Chaplin with Marjorie Lord with a Little Tramp routine. And Bob gets vamped by the maid Lupe Velez and they do a nice patter song and dance.

    If you are a Wheeler&Woolsey fan this one is a bittersweet must.
  • I first heard of the comedy team of Wheeler & Woolsey when Chris Costello mentioned them as one of several of those movie teams that had come before her father Lou and Bud Abbott invaded the cinema themselves in her book about her dad. In another book called "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood", their routines were compared to Bud & Lou's. When I was in Jacksonville, FL, during the '90s, I saw a few of their films on AMC which I managed to enjoy. So I'm now reviewing what turned out to be Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey's final movie as a team as the latter would pass on not long after its completion. I found them as funny as ever and I also liked the supporting turns by Lupe Velez (especially during her two numbers of which one of them is with Woolsey) and usual Marx Brothers foil Margaret Dumont. The plot is all over the place so I won't go there but I was also charmed by Wheeler's Charlie Chaplin impersonation when tap dancing, not so with his blackface shtick! So on that note, High Flyers Is worth a look.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Directed by Edward F. Cline, and written by Bert Granet, Byron Morgan, and Benny Rubin from a play by Victor Mapes, this (Burt) Wheeler & Woolsey B movie was the comedy duo's last; the bespeckled Robert Woolsey died the year after this film was released.

    The cast includes: Lupe Velez, Marjorie Lord, Margaret Dumont, Jack Carson, and Paul Harvey (among others). The two comedians (in the title roles) play carnival sideshow performers - they operate a mechanical airplane ride - that unknowingly get mixed up with jewel smugglers (led by Carson) whose plan is to steal some valuable diamonds from a rich family. Of course, the smugglers don't realize they've hired a couple of goof balls (the Wheeler and Woolsey characters) either; hence, the humor in the story. If you are unfamiliar with this duo's work, this one should serve as a pretty good introduction to their combined and/or separate styles and talents. Wheeler, the younger of the two by almost seven years, does a credible Charlie Chaplin (and a black-face) routine while Woolsey "sings" (not like only Groucho Marx could) and dances with Velez while he tosses out one-liners and chomps on his unlit cigar.

    Wheeler plays Jerry Lane, who's learned to fly by reading books, and Woolsey plays Pierre Potkin, who's a two time loser that doesn't want to get caught up in anything illegal nor miss an appointment with his parole officer for fear of being jailed. Jewel thief Dave Hanlon (Carson) has been schmoozing the wealthy Arlene Arlington (Lord) to get an inside track on when her father Horace (Harvey) will be receiving the matching diamonds he's been collecting overseas for his wife Martha (Dumont). Pretending to be a reporter, Hanlon hires small time carnival vendors Jerry and Potkin, whom he thinks really are pilots, for $500 (!) ostensibly to pick up some photographs needed for a story, by seaplane from the yacht that's really carrying Mr. Arlington's solitaires. Though the theft is successful, Jerry and Potkin discover what they're really carrying shortly before crashing the plane (ironically) on the Arlington estate! Velez plays Maria Juanita Rosita Anita Moreno del Valle, the Mexican Arlingtons' maid (Soledad Jiménez appears uncredited as her Auntie, the cook). Lots of stereotypical (foreign) language confusions ensue. Horace rushes to the accident site where he assumes that the duo are undercover police officers; Hanlon had provided them with a seaplane stolen from the police, who had shot down the plane precipitating the crash. Horace offers Jerry and Potkin every convenience, including his place to stay, which they're more than happy to accept especially when Potkin eyes Maria.

    Meanwhile, Hanlon is in trouble with his foreign-born benefactors (Charles Judels, Lucien Prival, and Herbert Evans) who want the now missing stolen jewels. Fortunately for him, he learns from a phone call with Arlene that, per her description, Jerry and Potkin are on the estate. Thinking quickly, he advises her that the pair have actually just escaped from a mental institution and that she and her family will be O.K. until he gets there as long as they humor them. Maria ends up conveying the message to the Arlingtons (Velez either badly imitates Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn and even Shirley Temple or I couldn't even figure out whom she was attempting to copy). Herbert Clifton plays the family's butler named Stone. Arlene ends up being entertained by Jerry's Chaplin routine and, as mentioned previously, Potkin sings & dances with Maria. When Hanlon and company, pretending to be psychiatrists, arrive, the hijinks continue, especially when the diamonds are fetched and then buried by the Arlington's dog that, unbeknownst to everyone except the audience, has been taking and burying similar objects throughout the movie.

    Maria, Arlene, and virtually everyone else in the household finally call the police (George Irving plays the chief), who arrive in droves, causing Horace a headache. This final third is the film's weakest - it involves everyone, criminal and police officer alike, digging up the estate grounds looking for the buried treasure - and most predictable (Woolsey & Wheeler get their gals).