Production Company: First National Pictures, Vitaphone
Top Billed Actors: Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton
IMDb Rating: 8.1
*Exclusive Award Winner*
Won 1 Oscar:
Best Writing (Story) - John Monk Saunders
Nominated for 0 more
Plot: Men in a French squadron fly planes, blow stuff up, die, and drink liquor. Repeat.
I admittedly was not excited to see this movie. After recently watching Wings (1927), I felt I had enough of the genre. However, I was pleasantly surprised that my first impressions were misleading. Although most of the story takes place at the French squadron's base, so much suspense and intensity is built on and released throughout. Although the air combat scenes were beautifully shot and the effects were impressive, the first couple of "dogfights" were not shown on screen. Instead, the viewer sees the commander of the squadron counting how many planes are landing at the base after each flight. We see the melancholy expressed by Neil Hamilton when he realizes not every man returns. The top flyer, Richard Barthelmess, soon takes Hamilton's job and the cycle repeats. The characters develop nicely given the limited setting and the pace of the movie never drags.
The faults of this movie are mirrored by the faults of its time. It is difficult to discredit a film for the time period it was produced in, but I have to comment on the lack of a musical score. A couple of songs were incorporated into the movie (and well executed too) but it would have been nice to have a score, at least between each scene. The long stretches of silence during dialogue sequences makes it hard to stomach for modern viewers.
Although I can admit these aerial combat war movies are not my cup of tea, I still enjoyed this. The dynamic characters as well as many moments of suspense in the "dogfight" sequences gives the fourth Awards a solid start.
My Score: 7/10