The Rocketeer (1991)

PG | 104 mins | Adventure | 21 July 1991

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HISTORY

The 28 Apr 1990 Screen International announced plans by Touchstone Pictures to produce The Rocketeer, featuring aviation magnate Howard Hughes among its characters. Principal photography was expected to begin Jul 1990. On 21 Jul 1990, Screen International reported that production was scheduled to begin the following week, but the title character had not yet been cast. The producers were reportedly seeking a youthful version of actor Harrison Ford, and had already auditioned Don Johnson, Matthew Broderick, Johnny Depp, John Schneider, Hart Bochner, Rob Estes, and television actor William (Bill) Campbell. One week later, the 28 Jul 1990 Screen International announced that the role was awarded to Campbell, “not to be confused with character actor William Campbell,” a much older performer. The Rocketeer was intended to be the first installment of a trilogy. A news item in the 11 Aug 1990 Screen International stated that Penelope Ann Miller was cast in the role of “Jenny,” but was later replaced by Jennifer Connelly, as reported in the 23 Sep 1990 LAT. The 11 Jul 1991 LADN estimated the film’s budget at $40 million, $7 million of which was allocated for special effects.
       Director of Photography Hiro Narita told the Jun 1991 AmCin that he wanted the color picture to “duplicate the look” of 1930s black-and-white cinema. Narita drew inspiration from the book, Reel Art—Great Posters from the Golden Age of the Silver Screen, which contained full-color advertisements for black-and-white films. He achieved his goal by shooting thirty to forty percent of the picture with a recently-developed ... More Less

The 28 Apr 1990 Screen International announced plans by Touchstone Pictures to produce The Rocketeer, featuring aviation magnate Howard Hughes among its characters. Principal photography was expected to begin Jul 1990. On 21 Jul 1990, Screen International reported that production was scheduled to begin the following week, but the title character had not yet been cast. The producers were reportedly seeking a youthful version of actor Harrison Ford, and had already auditioned Don Johnson, Matthew Broderick, Johnny Depp, John Schneider, Hart Bochner, Rob Estes, and television actor William (Bill) Campbell. One week later, the 28 Jul 1990 Screen International announced that the role was awarded to Campbell, “not to be confused with character actor William Campbell,” a much older performer. The Rocketeer was intended to be the first installment of a trilogy. A news item in the 11 Aug 1990 Screen International stated that Penelope Ann Miller was cast in the role of “Jenny,” but was later replaced by Jennifer Connelly, as reported in the 23 Sep 1990 LAT. The 11 Jul 1991 LADN estimated the film’s budget at $40 million, $7 million of which was allocated for special effects.
       Director of Photography Hiro Narita told the Jun 1991 AmCin that he wanted the color picture to “duplicate the look” of 1930s black-and-white cinema. Narita drew inspiration from the book, Reel Art—Great Posters from the Golden Age of the Silver Screen, which contained full-color advertisements for black-and-white films. He achieved his goal by shooting thirty to forty percent of the picture with a recently-developed low-contrast version of Kodak 5296 film stock, and used a soft effects filter throughout. To accommodate the numerous special effects, Narita and director Joe Johnston decided to use anamorphic lenses, which captured a greater depth of field, after camera tests with standard “flat” lenses exposed the wires supporting “the Rocketeer” during his flight scenes. As a precaution, Narita made duplicate shots of flight sequences in 8-Perf VistaVision during production. The change to anamorphic lenses resulted in a need for larger sets, some of which were the largest Narita had ever encountered. Among them was the office of aviation tycoon Howard Hughes, constructed onto the back wall of an airplane hangar in San Pedro, CA. The office occupied one quarter of the hangar, which “opened out onto the hangar itself and that opened up to the outside.” The action and set design of the fictional film within the film, The Laughing Bandit, was copied from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, see entry), and the swordfight sequence was photographed at twenty-one frames per second, a slightly faster speed than the twenty-four frames per second used for 1938 film. Narita described the zeppelin set as an approximate re-creation of the ill-fated Hindenburg, and estimated its height at more than sixty-five feet. A remote control camera on a crane was required to film the action sequences on top of the airship. Because the set was stationary, camera movement simulated the movement of the zeppelin. The interior of the airship’s gondola was built on a soundstage in Santa Maria, CA. In the 11 Jul 1991 LADN, visual effects producer Patricia Blau noted that the thirty-five-foot long, 1/24 scale model zeppelin required sixty-three man hours to construct. It was destroyed with a series of bombs, which created small fires that appeared to be “one big flame” on screen. Flight scenes involving the “Rocketeer” were accomplished using either a stunt man, or one of two stop-motion puppets, each containing an aluminum skeleton with numerous joints to simulate human movement.
       Bill Campbell revealed in the 16 Jun 1991 Toronto Star that he had a fear of flying prior to appearing in the film, but had since taken up para-planing and hang-gliding. He explained that his flying sequences were achieved using a biplane with three cockpits, with the pilot seated in front, a camera operator in the middle, and Campbell in the rear. According to press materials from The Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA, the “Gee Bee” airplane used in the film was a modified reproduction of the 1931 Granville Brothers Gee Bee Model Z racing plane. Built by Bill Turner in 1975, the airplane, known as The City of Springfield, was purchased by The Walt Disney Corporation for the picture, and displayed at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying in Santa Monica, CA, before it was acquired by The Museum of Flight.
       “Lothar,” modeled on 1940s character actor Rondo Hatton, was played by Tiny Ron wearing elaborate prosthetic makeup. Hatton, best known for playing “the Creeper” in three horror movies, suffered from a glandular disease called acromegaly that distorted his hands and face. Narita, who had no previous experience photographing actors in prosthetics, developed a system with makeup artist Greg Nelson to color and light the prosthetics “for maximum realism.” Production notes in AMPAS library files state that the six prosthetics required four hours to apply. Twenty-five makeup artists and hair stylists were on set for the air show and nightclub sequences, which included up to 650 background actors, each of which was given an authentic period look. Actors Timothy Dalton, Terry O’Quinn, Ed Lauter, and Alan Arkin wore either wigs or hairpieces for the film.
       The interior of the Mayan-style mansion where “Neville Sinclair” was based on the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is unclear whether the production filmed in the house or built a studio replica.
       The 24 Jun 1991 Var stated that five special-effects scenes in the screenplay did not appear in the film. One such scene involved a klieg light operator falling from the roof of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, CA. He is rescued by the Rocketeer, who inadvertently plants his feet in a patch of wet concrete. Theater owner Sid Grauman signs the hero’s name under the footprints as the Rocketeer flies away.
       The 12 Nov 1990 DV reported that stuntmen Jim Madeiras and Michael Sarna were injured at 3:30 a.m. the previous Saturday, while filming near the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, CA. The two men were performing a stunt in which they were to be pulled by a car at approximately seven miles per hour, and collide with a fence made of balsa wood. According to the studio, one of the stuntmen “missed his mark” and broke through the fence, falling eight feet into a tree. Madeiras was rendered unconscious, while Sarna sustained minor injuries. However, Police Sergeant John Johnston stated that the stuntmen were pulled along the ground at a higher speed than intended, propelling them through the fence and past the mattresses placed to break their fall. Johnston estimated that Sarna fell twenty-five feet, and Madeiras fell fifty feet before hitting the tree. Sarna was released from the hospital after being treated for facial wounds, and Madeiras was listed in “critical but stable conditions from head injuries.”
       As noted in the 11 Jan 1991 HR, location photography took place 15 and 16 Jan 1991 at Walt Disney-MGM Studios, later known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in Bay Lake, FL. A summer 1991 release was scheduled.
       The 7 Dec 1990 Santa Barbara News-Press announced that the Santa Maria Museum of Flight in Santa Maria, CA, was considering the purchase of the 1930s airport set constructed for the film, which consisted of three hangars, a storage building, and a set of bleachers. The set was built at the Santa Maria Airport, where location filming took place during Oct 1990. Under the terms of its lease with the airport, the production company was required to demolish the sets and move the debris to a landfill once filming was completed. However, this would have been in violation of a state regulation requiring “public entities to reduce the amount of garbage they dump into landfills.” Airport General Manager Dan Hoback recommended that the Santa Maria Airport District transfer the structures to “a third party,” preferably with an interest in aviation, and move them to a different location. He intended the largest of the three hangars to be relocated to land leased by the Museum of Flight, for use as an exhibit. Although the structures were sturdy enough to withstand being moved, all would require improvements to conform to building code standards.
       The Rocketeer opened to mixed reviews. While the 10 Jun 1991 DV predicted a favorable audience response, the 21 Jun 1991 NYT found the picture “too slight to engage adult audiences, yet overcomplicated for children.” The DV estimated the film’s budget at $40 million, and noted that the character, “Neville Sinclair,” was inspired by actor Errol Flynn, who has been rumored to be a spy for Nazi Germany.
       End credits include the following statements: “Special thanks to Republic Pictures and their Rocketman and Commando Cody characters,” which were the prototypes for the Rocketeer in matinee serials (including King of the Rocket Men, 1949) and on early television. End credits also give the following acknowledgment: “The producers wish to thank the Santa Maria Airport District and the people of Santa Maria Valley for their cooperation and support.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jun 1991
pp. 45-48, 50-52.
Daily Variety
12 Nov 1990
p. 2, 13.
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1991
p. 2, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 1991
p. 7, 14.
Los Angeles Daily News
11 Jul 1991
p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Sep 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1991
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
21 Jun 1991
p. 1.
Santa Barbara News-Press
7 Dec 1990.
---
Screen International
28 Apr 1990.
---
Screen International
21 Jul 1991.
---
Screen International
28 Jul 1991.
---
Screen International
11 Aug 1990.
---
Toronto Star
16 Jun 1991
Section C, p. 1.
Variety
10 Jun 1991
p. 60.
Variety
24 Jun 1991.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Walt Disney Pictures Presents
In association with Silver Screen Partners IV
A Gordon Company Production
A Joe Johnston Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Dir, 2d unit
Dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Opt photog supv
WRITERS
Story
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Elec best boy
Key grip
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Company grip
Still photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Opt cam op
Opt cam op
Opt cam op
Opt cam op
Opt cam op
Opt cam op
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Asst ed, neg cutter
Asst ed, neg cutter
Asst ed, neg cutter
Prod and distributed on
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
2d asst prop master
Standby painter
Const coord
Const coord
General const foreman
General const foreman
COSTUMES
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Asst to cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Addl orch by
Orch contractor
Supv copyist
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Utility sd
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley by
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Dubbing rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Wire rig
Aerial coord
Titles & opticals
Main titles graphics by
Spec visual eff by
A division of LucasArts Entertainment, Marin County, California
Visual eff supv
Visual eff prod
Visual eff art dir
Opt photog supv
Opt photog supv
Dir of photog, [Spec eff]
Visual eff ed
Supv modelmaker
Efx cam matte painting supv
Visual eff coord
Visual eff coord
Computer graph, digital supv
Computer graph, digital supv
Film scanner op
Film scanner op
Film scanner op
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
Opt line-up
Chief matte painter
Eff cam op
Chief modelmaker
Chief modelmaker
Chief modelmaker
Chief modelmaker
Chief modelmaker
Chief modelmaker
Key stage tech
Key stage tech
Key stage tech
Key stage tech
Key stage tech
Key stage tech
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Hair supv
Hairstylist
Lothar makeup created by
Lothar makeup application
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Video playback
Scr supv
Unit pub
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Larry Franco
Asst to Larry Gordon
Asst to Chuck Gordon
Asst to Lloyd Levin
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extra casting, Santa Maria
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation co-capt
Transportation co-capt
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Exec in charge of prod
Exec in charge of post prod
General mgr
Proj mgr
Prod asst
Scr supv, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
ANIMATION
Anim supv
Rotoscope supv
Stop motion anim
Rotoscoper
Rotoscoper
Rotoscoper
Rotoscoper
Rotoscoper
Rotoscoper
Dir, Nazi anim
Layout, Nazi anim
Backgrounds, Nazi anim
Post by, Nazi anim
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the graphic novel The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens (publication date undetermined).
AUTHOR
SONGS
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Der Hō
lle Rache,” Queen of the Night’s Aria, performed by Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, courtesy of Laserlight Digital, by arrangement with Sounds of Film
“You’re A Sweet Little Headache,” written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robbin, performed by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra, vocal Helen Forrest, courtesy of Bluebird/RCA/BMG Record Labels
+
SONGS
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Der Hō
lle Rache,” Queen of the Night’s Aria, performed by Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, courtesy of Laserlight Digital, by arrangement with Sounds of Film
“You’re A Sweet Little Headache,” written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robbin, performed by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra, vocal Helen Forrest, courtesy of Bluebird/RCA/BMG Record Labels
“Drum Majorette,” written and performed by Arnold Steck
“Amboss Polka,” written by A. Parlow
“Vilia,” written by Franz Lehar and Paul Francis Webster, performed by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra, courtesy of Bluebird/RCA/BMG Record Labels
“Begin The Beguine,” written by Cole Porter, performed by Melora Hardin
“Any Old Time,” written by Artie Shaw, performed by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra, vocal Billie Holiday, courtesy of Bluebird/RCA/BMG Record Labels
“In A Sentimental Mood,” written by Duke Ellington
“When Your Lover Has Gone,” written by E. A. Swan, performed by Melora Hardin
“Night And Day,” written by Cole Porter
“Easy To Love,” written by Cole Porter
“Barrage,” written and performed by Charles Williams
“All Dressed Up And No Place To Go,” written by Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman, performed by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra, courtesy of Bluebird/RCA/BMG Record Labels.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 July 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 21 Jun 1991; New York opening: week of 21 Jun 1991
Production Date:
Jul 1990--Jan 1991
Copyright Claimant:
The Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
1 July 1991
Copyright Number:
PA524978
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
104
Length(in feet):
9,756
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31206
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1938 Los Angeles, California, aviator Cliff Secord prepares to test-fly his Gee Bee racing airplane to enter the National Air Races. After his mechanic, “Peevy” Peabody, advises Cliff on the characteristic hazards of the high-powered plane, Cliff places a wad of chewing gum on the rudder for good luck. On a nearby highway, Agents Fitch and Wooly of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pursue thieves Wilmer and Lenny, who have stolen the Cirrhus X-3 rocket pack from the Hughes Corporation. Cliff flies overhead as the parties exchange gunfire, and the airplane is riddled with bullets, forcing him to crash land. Wilmer drives to the airport and hides the rocket pack inside the damaged Gee Bee. Realizing Lenny has been shot to death, Wilmer destroys the car by driving into a fuel truck, and jumping to safety prior to impact. While Wilmer is taken to a hospital for his injuries, Fitch and Wooly pull the remains of a vacuum cleaner from the wreckage and assume it is the Cirrhus X-3. At Hughes Corporation headquarters, aviation magnate Howard Hughes is relieved to learn of the rocket’s destruction. He burns the schematic, saying the device killed two test pilots. Meanwhile, airfield owner Otis Bigelow charges Cliff and Peevy $300 for the loss of his fuel truck, and requires them to perform in airshows to work off their debt. That evening, Cliff and Peevy discover the Cirrhus X-3, and test it using a statue of Charles Lindbergh. The device breaks loose from its tether and flies wildly across the sky before crashing into a farm field. Believing it would be a popular attraction at air shows, Cliff decides to “borrow” the ... +


In 1938 Los Angeles, California, aviator Cliff Secord prepares to test-fly his Gee Bee racing airplane to enter the National Air Races. After his mechanic, “Peevy” Peabody, advises Cliff on the characteristic hazards of the high-powered plane, Cliff places a wad of chewing gum on the rudder for good luck. On a nearby highway, Agents Fitch and Wooly of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pursue thieves Wilmer and Lenny, who have stolen the Cirrhus X-3 rocket pack from the Hughes Corporation. Cliff flies overhead as the parties exchange gunfire, and the airplane is riddled with bullets, forcing him to crash land. Wilmer drives to the airport and hides the rocket pack inside the damaged Gee Bee. Realizing Lenny has been shot to death, Wilmer destroys the car by driving into a fuel truck, and jumping to safety prior to impact. While Wilmer is taken to a hospital for his injuries, Fitch and Wooly pull the remains of a vacuum cleaner from the wreckage and assume it is the Cirrhus X-3. At Hughes Corporation headquarters, aviation magnate Howard Hughes is relieved to learn of the rocket’s destruction. He burns the schematic, saying the device killed two test pilots. Meanwhile, airfield owner Otis Bigelow charges Cliff and Peevy $300 for the loss of his fuel truck, and requires them to perform in airshows to work off their debt. That evening, Cliff and Peevy discover the Cirrhus X-3, and test it using a statue of Charles Lindbergh. The device breaks loose from its tether and flies wildly across the sky before crashing into a farm field. Believing it would be a popular attraction at air shows, Cliff decides to “borrow” the rocket until their debt to Bigelow is paid. At his palatial, Mayan-tiled home in the Hollywood Hills, film star Neville Sinclair commissions crime boss Eddie Valentine to recover the rocket. The gangster reluctantly agrees, blaming the device for the death of his henchman, Lenny. Following Valentine’s departure, Neville directs a mutant killer named Lothar to Wilmer’s hospital room, with orders to learn the rocket’s location. Lothar extracts the information from Wilmer, then crushes the thief with his enormous hands. Cliff and his girl friend, Jenny Blake, attend a screening of Neville Sinclair’s latest picture, Wings of Honor, after which she tells him about her small role in the actor’s next film, The Laughing Bandit. Cliff returns home to find Peevy correcting design flaws in the Cirrhus X-3, drawing a schematic, and building a helmet. The next day, Cliff searches for Jenny on the set of The Laughing Bandit, and accidentally knocks down a set wall. Neville orders Jenny’s dismissal, until he overhears Cliff telling her about the rocket pack. While Cliff is escorted off the set, Neville offers Jenny a larger role and invites her to dinner at Eddie Valentine’s South Seas nightclub. When Cliff is late for an air show, his substitute, an aging pilot named Malcolm, endangers the other participants with his diminished skills. Cliff dons the Cirrhus X-3 and rescues Malcolm moments before the airplane crashes into a fuel truck. Bigelow addresses reporters, crediting himself with discovering the hero, whom he dubs the Rocketeer. That evening, Fitch and Wooly enter Bigelow’s office only to find his mutilated body, and Cliff and Peevy’s home address etched into a note pad. Lothar arrives at the house demanding the Cirrhus X-3, unaware that the device is in plain view, disguised as a lamp. The agents appear outside and a gun battle ensues. Lothar escapes with the schematic, while Cliff and Peevy escape with the rocket and take refuge in the Bulldog Cafe. Neville escorts Jenny to the South Seas, leaving her in the company of comedian W. C. Fields while he confers with Eddie Valentine. The gangster is angered over Wilmer’s death and threatens revenge, but Neville is unfazed, believing his stardom gives him immunity. Meanwhile, Cliff and Peevy learn of Bigelow’s murder and decide to call authorities. However, a group of gangsters, led by Valentine henchman Spanish Johnny, enter the cafe in search of Cliff. Before returning to the South Seas, Spanish Johnny inadvertently reveals that Jenny is in the company of accomplice Neville Sinclair. Two gangsters remain at the Bulldog Cafe, but are overwhelmed by the patrons, allowing Cliff to fly to Jenny’s rescue. Before Cliff’s departure, Peevy patches a bullet hole in the fuel tank with a wad of chewing gum. Upon arriving at the nightclub, Cliff disguises himself as a waiter, hides the Cirrhus X-3 in a laundry bag, and passes Jenny a note, telling her to meet him behind a fountain. He warns Jenny she is in danger and advises her to stay with her mother in a neighboring county. Neville discovers Cliff’s note and orders Lothar to capture the aviator. Cliff retrieves the rocket pack and evades his pursuer, until he is caught in a net. As Lothar aims his gun at Cliff, Jenny breaks a statuette over the killer’s head. Cliff escapes by crashing through the stained-glass ceiling, while Neville renders Jenny unconscious with chloroform. She awakens in Neville’s mansion, where the actor apologizes for kidnapping her, explaining that he is a victim of blackmail. Neville attempts to seduce Jenny by reciting dialogue from his films, and she responds by hitting him with a vase. She discovers a secret room containing Nazi literature, a two-way radio, and Peevy’s schematic. Neville stands at the doorway and proudly admits to being a Nazi spy. At the Bulldog Cafe, Cliff receives a message from Eddie Valentine, instructing him to deliver the rocket at four o’clock in the morning outside the Griffith Park Observatory. Moments later, the aviator is surrounded by federal agents, who take him to Hughes Corporation headquarters, where Peevy is engaged in a friendly conversation with Howard Hughes. Fitch and Wooly order Cliff to return the device, but he refuses until Jenny has been rescued, believing he can reason with Eddie Valentine. However, Hughes explains that the gangster is working for a Nazi spy with a prominent place in the film industry. Cliff realizes that Neville is the spy and makes his way to Griffith Park. He demands Jenny’s release before handing over the rocket. When Neville refuses, Cliff informs Eddie Valentine he is working for a German spy. The gangsters turn against Neville, and German commandos come to the actor’s defense. FBI agents join the confrontation, and as a gun battle rages around him, Neville forces Jenny aboard a zeppelin. Cliff lands on top of the airship and disables the rudder, while Lothar tethers himself to the zeppelin. Following a brief struggle, Lothar falls over the side and crashes through the gondola, forcing the pilot out the opposite window. Cliff enters the gondola and surrenders the rocket in exchange for Jenny, but removes the chewing gum plugging the fuel tank. Jenny tries to shoot Neville with his own gun and misses, igniting a fire in the control console. The actor escapes with the rocket pack but is quickly engulfed in flames when the leaking fuel ignites. He crashes into the “Hollywoodland” sign, destroying the last four letters. Cliff and Jenny are stranded atop the burning zeppelin as Lothar confronts them. Howard Hughes flies past in an autogyro and rescues them, leaving Lothar to die in the ensuing explosion. Later, at the Bulldog Cafe, Peevy reads a newspaper story attributing Neville’s death to falling debris from the zeppelin. Outside, Hughes presents Cliff with a restored Gee Bee airplane, and a pack of chewing gum, advising him never to fly without it. After Hughes leaves, Jenny hands Peevy his schematic for the Cirrhus X-3. She and Cliff kiss as a crowd gathers around the airplane. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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