30 December 2010 | bkoganbing
The Flying MacDonalds
For those of you who have seen and are a fan of John Ford's classic film Wings Of Eagles, Blaze At Noon was the final project of the protagonist of the Ford film, Spig Wead. As all Wead projects it's about aviation, to be precise the early years of commercial aviation as seen through the lives of the four MacDonald brothers. All four MacDonalds are stunt fliers who follow one of them into the new field of airmail which was done by private contracting back in those days.
Blaze At Noon gave Paramount an opportunity to welcome back from World War II, two of its contract players William Holden and Sterling Hayden. They are two of the brothers, the other two being Sonny Tufts and Johnny Sands. Holden takes the lead in getting the brothers away from carnival stunt flying to transporting the mail. He also takes a bride in the person of Anne Baxter. That despite all warnings to the contrary.
Baxter's not used to the life of a flier's wife. She feels a whole lot like Jane Powell who thought she might have married all the Pontipee brothers in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. One of the others kind of wishes he had seen Baxter first. It all makes for some interesting family dynamics.
Blaze At Noon is not a bad film, but at times it does play like a aerial soap opera. Wead was great at writing about aviation, the personal stuff does not hold the interest as much. As for the plot, it's a whole lot like his play Ceiling Zero which was a James Cagney/Pat O'Brien film at Warner Brothers in the Thirties. Wead doesn't break any new ground here.
Howard DaSilva and William Bendix are in this as well. DaSilva is the gruff, but decent owner of the airmail line which is called the Mercury Aviation Corporation. That was an inside Paramount joke because Cecil B. DeMille back after World War I organized something called the Mercury Aviation Corporation as a sideline from films. DeMille had developed an interest in flying and was a pilot during his younger days. His Mercury Aviation Corporation went bust during the Depression.
William Bendix is good as always as one of the MacDonald's fellow pilot friends whose happy go lucky attitude gets him bounced as an airmail pilot. I wish we'd seen more of him and also of Jean Wallace who is a kind of aviation groupie before that term was in the language.
Blaze At Noon is directed by John Farrow who doesn't do a bad job with a sluggish script. I wish Frank Wead had written something better for a swansong.