Men Against the Sky (1940)

75 mins | Drama | 6 September 1940

Director:

Leslie Goodwins

Writer:

Nathanael West

Producer:

Howard Benedict

Cinematographer:

Harry Redmond

Production Designer:

Van Nest Polglase

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
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HISTORY

A news item in HR noted that Lucille Ball was slated for the female lead in this picture. A HR chart lists Robert Wise as editor, but Mr. Wise confirmed that he did not work on this film. Although the MPH review lists Paul Hurst as the bartender, the Call Bureau Cast Service credits John Sheehan with the part. Modern sources state that studio publicity exploited the appearance of Howard Hughes's record-breaking transcontinental aircraft in this picture. This was the last film written by Nathanael West, who died on 22 Dec ... More Less

A news item in HR noted that Lucille Ball was slated for the female lead in this picture. A HR chart lists Robert Wise as editor, but Mr. Wise confirmed that he did not work on this film. Although the MPH review lists Paul Hurst as the bartender, the Call Bureau Cast Service credits John Sheehan with the part. Modern sources state that studio publicity exploited the appearance of Howard Hughes's record-breaking transcontinental aircraft in this picture. This was the last film written by Nathanael West, who died on 22 Dec 1940. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
5 Sep 40
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 40
pp. 8-9.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Aug 40
p. 58.
New York Times
12 Sep 40
p. 31.
Variety
28 Aug 40
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 September 1940
Production Date:
late May--15 June 1940
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
6 September 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9885
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6370
SYNOPSIS

Phil Mercedes, a once illustrious pilot, forfeits his reputation and his pilot's license because of his fondness for alcohol. Determined to help her brother reform, Phil's sister Kay quits drafting school and comes to live with him. Using an assumed name, Kay wheedles her way into a drafting job at the McLean aircraft factory, where she falls in love with her boss, engineer Martin Ames. McLean is in danger of going bankrupt and thus desperately needs to win a government contract for a new fighter plane. When Martin wrestles with the problems of wing design, Kay presents him with a revolutionary aerodynamic solution that Phil has designed. The plane then undergoes a test flight, and all goes well until test pilot Dick Allerton claims that the wings are unsafe and refuses to perform the last test. Believing that Dick has deliberately sabotaged the test because of his rivalry with Martin over Kay's affections, Phil commandeers the craft to perform his own test. Dick's instincts prove correct, however, when the wings break off during a dive and the plane crashes in a ball of fire. Phil's license is permanently revoked, and the loss of the test model puts McLean in jeopardy of losing his factory until Phil suggests some structural changes to remedy the weakness in the wings. The newly designed craft passes all the tests until the landing gear freezes, imperiling the plane. To save the craft, Phil sacrifices his own life to pry the gear lose, thus winning the contract for McLean and Martin and saving the ... +


Phil Mercedes, a once illustrious pilot, forfeits his reputation and his pilot's license because of his fondness for alcohol. Determined to help her brother reform, Phil's sister Kay quits drafting school and comes to live with him. Using an assumed name, Kay wheedles her way into a drafting job at the McLean aircraft factory, where she falls in love with her boss, engineer Martin Ames. McLean is in danger of going bankrupt and thus desperately needs to win a government contract for a new fighter plane. When Martin wrestles with the problems of wing design, Kay presents him with a revolutionary aerodynamic solution that Phil has designed. The plane then undergoes a test flight, and all goes well until test pilot Dick Allerton claims that the wings are unsafe and refuses to perform the last test. Believing that Dick has deliberately sabotaged the test because of his rivalry with Martin over Kay's affections, Phil commandeers the craft to perform his own test. Dick's instincts prove correct, however, when the wings break off during a dive and the plane crashes in a ball of fire. Phil's license is permanently revoked, and the loss of the test model puts McLean in jeopardy of losing his factory until Phil suggests some structural changes to remedy the weakness in the wings. The newly designed craft passes all the tests until the landing gear freezes, imperiling the plane. To save the craft, Phil sacrifices his own life to pry the gear lose, thus winning the contract for McLean and Martin and saving the factory. +

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.