Flight Command (1940)

110 or 113 mins | Drama | 27 December 1940

Director:

Frank Borzage

Producer:

J. Walter Ruben

Cinematographer:

Harold Rosson

Editor:

Robert J. Kern

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to news items in HR , an early working title of the film was Hell Cats . The opening credits have the following acknowledgment: "With the gratefully acknowledged cooperation of the United States Navy." A pre-production news item lists Walter Strohm as the assistant director, however, only Lew Borzage is listed after the film began production. Another news item, on 7 Aug 1940, noted that R. C. Sheriff was "polishing" the script, however, he is not mentioned elsewhere and his contribution to the film has not been determined. According to the pressbook for the film contained in the AMPAS Library, the picture was made by M-G-M at the federal government's request to increase the public's awareness of the importance of defense preparations. The world premiere in Washington, D. C. coincided with celebrations for "Pan American Aviation Day." A HR news item on 17 Dec 1940, noted that the picture was previewed aboard an airplane flight from Washington to Pittsburgh on 15 Dec. Modern sources credit Richard Rosson and Elmer Dyer with 2nd unit direction and include Paul Mantz and Frank Clarke on the 2nd unit camera crew which worked on various flying ... More Less

According to news items in HR , an early working title of the film was Hell Cats . The opening credits have the following acknowledgment: "With the gratefully acknowledged cooperation of the United States Navy." A pre-production news item lists Walter Strohm as the assistant director, however, only Lew Borzage is listed after the film began production. Another news item, on 7 Aug 1940, noted that R. C. Sheriff was "polishing" the script, however, he is not mentioned elsewhere and his contribution to the film has not been determined. According to the pressbook for the film contained in the AMPAS Library, the picture was made by M-G-M at the federal government's request to increase the public's awareness of the importance of defense preparations. The world premiere in Washington, D. C. coincided with celebrations for "Pan American Aviation Day." A HR news item on 17 Dec 1940, noted that the picture was previewed aboard an airplane flight from Washington to Pittsburgh on 15 Dec. Modern sources credit Richard Rosson and Elmer Dyer with 2nd unit direction and include Paul Mantz and Frank Clarke on the 2nd unit camera crew which worked on various flying sequences. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 Dec 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Dec 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 40
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Oct 40
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 40
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
19 Dec 40
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Dec 40
p. 44.
New York Times
17 Jan 41
p. 21.
Variety
18 Dec 40
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Frank Borzage Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Women's wardrobe
Men's wardrobe
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Eyes of the Fleet" by J. C. McElduff, Lieut. Comdr., U. S. N.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Hell Cats
Release Date:
27 December 1940
Premiere Information:
Washington, D.C. premiere: 17 December 1940
Production Date:
19 August--10 October 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 December 1940
Copyright Number:
LP10166
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110 or 113
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6799
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Navy "Hell Cat" squadron commander Bill Gary is happy that his wife Lorna is strong and doesn't breakdown after the death of one of the Hell Cats. Lorna, however, confides in her brother, Jerry Banning, who is also a Hellcat, that she is worried about Bill. The new squad recruit, Ensign Alan Drake, a recent graduate of Pensacola who is elated with his new assignment, flies hurriedly to San Diego and is forced to abandon his plane in a dense fog. He safely parachutes into the water and goes to a house, which happens to be Bill's, and is greeted by Lorna, who is amused to pretend that she only vaguely knows about the squad. When Bill meets Drake at the base, Bill laces into Drake for not following orders about jetisoning the plane sooner, but tells him that there isn't a man in the fleet who could have done better. As maneuvers and training advance, Drake, who is named "Pensacola" by the men, becomes estranged from them because of his cockiness. At first, only Jerry befriends him, but after a social gathering at Bill and Lorna's house, during which Pensacola finally discovers Lorna's real identity, Pensacola becomes part of the team, and soon begins to help Jerry with an anti-fog device. When Jerry thinks it is perfected, he decides to test it in a dense fog himself, despite Pensacola's concerns. Everything works well until the landing, when the instrument suddenly fails, causing Jerry to crash. On his way to the hospital, Jerry tells Pensacola that there was something wrong with the direction needle, then offers the device to him to perfect. ... +


Navy "Hell Cat" squadron commander Bill Gary is happy that his wife Lorna is strong and doesn't breakdown after the death of one of the Hell Cats. Lorna, however, confides in her brother, Jerry Banning, who is also a Hellcat, that she is worried about Bill. The new squad recruit, Ensign Alan Drake, a recent graduate of Pensacola who is elated with his new assignment, flies hurriedly to San Diego and is forced to abandon his plane in a dense fog. He safely parachutes into the water and goes to a house, which happens to be Bill's, and is greeted by Lorna, who is amused to pretend that she only vaguely knows about the squad. When Bill meets Drake at the base, Bill laces into Drake for not following orders about jetisoning the plane sooner, but tells him that there isn't a man in the fleet who could have done better. As maneuvers and training advance, Drake, who is named "Pensacola" by the men, becomes estranged from them because of his cockiness. At first, only Jerry befriends him, but after a social gathering at Bill and Lorna's house, during which Pensacola finally discovers Lorna's real identity, Pensacola becomes part of the team, and soon begins to help Jerry with an anti-fog device. When Jerry thinks it is perfected, he decides to test it in a dense fog himself, despite Pensacola's concerns. Everything works well until the landing, when the instrument suddenly fails, causing Jerry to crash. On his way to the hospital, Jerry tells Pensacola that there was something wrong with the direction needle, then offers the device to him to perfect. At the hospital, Bill gives little solace to Lorna, thinking she is strong enough to take it, but Pensacola comforts her. Ten days later, just after Pensacola has perfected the device, some of the men ask him to visit Lorna because she is very depressed and Bill was called away just after Jerry's death. Lorna is touched by Pensacola's kindness and similarity to Jerry, and they start to spend time together. One night, as they are dining at an out-of-the-way restaurant, one of the Hell Cats, Dusty Rhodes, sees them together and suspects the worst. When they run into some of the other Hell Cats, Lorna suddenly feels ashamed of her attraction to Pensacola. Later she thanks him for his kindness, but inexplicably says that they should not see each other again. The next day, when Bill returns, she tells him that she is not the courageous woman he thinks and is leaving him to think things over. Though Bill is devastated, he doesn't tell her, and only confides in Dusty, who thinks that Pensacola is to blame. The men then confront Pensacola and ask him to leave. Despite his innocence, Pensacola doesn't want to stay with a squad that would suspect him of breaking up a marriage, and give his resignation without explanation to Bill, who asks him to stay through their upcoming maneuvers. Immediately after maneuvers end, the squad is sent on a rescue mission for a downed aircraft. Bill's plane gets an oil leak, forcing him to break formation, and despite Bills orders, Pensacola follows. When Bill crash-lands on a beach, Pensacola goes after him and takes the injured Bill on his own plane. Because of a dense fog, Pensacola must use Jerry's device to land, and is successfully able to guide the other planes as well. After they land, Dusty sends Lorna a telegram telling her that Bill is critically injured, and when she sees Bill in the hospital, they reconcile. After Lorna tells Dusty the truth about Pensacola, Dusty apologizes and asks Pensacola to stay because he is a true Hell Cat. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.