Flight for Freedom (1943)

101 mins | Drama | 2 April 1943

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Stand to Die . The picture's opening sequence shows American battle squadrons speeding toward the Japanese islands in 1943. Over the image of the planes, a narrator explains that a spirited American woman risked her life to secure strategic information about secret Japanese combat bases on those islands. Although pre-production news items in HR place Tom Conway and Harold Huber in the cast, neither appears in the completed film. Other news items in HR offer the following information about the film's production: In Jun 1942, RKO moved up the film's production date to exploit the U.S.'s recent victories at Midway Island. In early Sep 1942, Frank Redman took over the photography from Lee Garmes when Garmes was called back to Twentieth-Century Fox to film China Girl (see above). The overwater aviation shots were filmed in Chicago, Il., because the Atlantic and Pacific coasts were closed to filming due to the war.
       Many of the reviews note the strong parallels between the life of aviatrix Amelia Earhart and the character of "Tonie Carter." According to the HR review, there was much speculation at the time that Earhart's disappearance during her round-the-world flight in Jul 1937 was staged to allow search parties to fly over the Japanese islands, much like "Tonie's" disappearance in this film. A modern source adds that George Palmer Putnam, Earhart's widower, allowed the film to be made on the condition that his late wife's name not be mentioned. Fred MacMurray was borrowed from Paramount to appear in this film. According to a news item ... More Less

The working title of this film was Stand to Die . The picture's opening sequence shows American battle squadrons speeding toward the Japanese islands in 1943. Over the image of the planes, a narrator explains that a spirited American woman risked her life to secure strategic information about secret Japanese combat bases on those islands. Although pre-production news items in HR place Tom Conway and Harold Huber in the cast, neither appears in the completed film. Other news items in HR offer the following information about the film's production: In Jun 1942, RKO moved up the film's production date to exploit the U.S.'s recent victories at Midway Island. In early Sep 1942, Frank Redman took over the photography from Lee Garmes when Garmes was called back to Twentieth-Century Fox to film China Girl (see above). The overwater aviation shots were filmed in Chicago, Il., because the Atlantic and Pacific coasts were closed to filming due to the war.
       Many of the reviews note the strong parallels between the life of aviatrix Amelia Earhart and the character of "Tonie Carter." According to the HR review, there was much speculation at the time that Earhart's disappearance during her round-the-world flight in Jul 1937 was staged to allow search parties to fly over the Japanese islands, much like "Tonie's" disappearance in this film. A modern source adds that George Palmer Putnam, Earhart's widower, allowed the film to be made on the condition that his late wife's name not be mentioned. Fred MacMurray was borrowed from Paramount to appear in this film. According to a news item in HR , the proceeds from the Hollywood premiere were given to war charities. This picture was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction and Interior Decoration. Rosalind Russell reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 20 Sep 1943, co-starring George Brent. A biographical film about Earhart herself was the 1976 NBC television movie Amelia Earhart , directed by George Schaefer and starring Susan Clark and John Forsythe. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jun 1943.
---
Daily Variety
2 Feb 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 Feb 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 43
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
6 Feb 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Feb 43
p. 1145.
New York Times
16 Apr 43
p. 24.
Variety
3 Feb 1943.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Don Dillaway
Eddie Dew
Chester Huntley
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Supv overwater aviation shots
Supv of Washington, D.C. Navy scenes
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Stand to Die
Release Date:
2 April 1943
Production Date:
late August--late October 1942
addl scenes shot early December 1942
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
2 April 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12112
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
101
Length(in feet):
9,123
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8700
SYNOPSIS

In 1932 novice pilot Tonie Carter flies her first solo flight and almost collides with Randy Britton, an acclaimed pilot who thinks that women belong on the ground and not in the air. To apologize to Randy for her near miss, Tonie goes to find him at the back room of Johnny Salvini's New York nightclub, where the pilots congregate. The room is restricted to male pilots, and to gain admittance, Tonie lies that she has a date to meet Randy there. Intrigued, Randy invites her to dinner, and after flying her to Delaware to dine on clams, he suggests they spend the week together while the wing on his plane is being repaired. At first reluctant, Tonie agrees to fly to Virginia Beach with Randy and they spend the night together. The next morning, Randy presents Tonie with a cigarette case featuring a map of the world with a gem marking the city of Virginia Beach. Soon after Randy is notified that his wing is fixed, he takes off for a test flight to California and South America. Tonie, who has fallen in love with Randy, watches in tears as his plane disappears into the distance, leaving her alone on the beach. Tonie then goes back to New York to work for her flying teacher, airplane designer Paul Turner. Two years later, Randy returns from South America and asks Paul about Tonie's whereabouts, but Paul claims ignorance. After Randy leaves, Paul tells Tonie of the visit and asks her to fly his prototype in an upcoming New York-Los Angeles race. Because the prize money would provide Paul with the funds that he needs ... +


In 1932 novice pilot Tonie Carter flies her first solo flight and almost collides with Randy Britton, an acclaimed pilot who thinks that women belong on the ground and not in the air. To apologize to Randy for her near miss, Tonie goes to find him at the back room of Johnny Salvini's New York nightclub, where the pilots congregate. The room is restricted to male pilots, and to gain admittance, Tonie lies that she has a date to meet Randy there. Intrigued, Randy invites her to dinner, and after flying her to Delaware to dine on clams, he suggests they spend the week together while the wing on his plane is being repaired. At first reluctant, Tonie agrees to fly to Virginia Beach with Randy and they spend the night together. The next morning, Randy presents Tonie with a cigarette case featuring a map of the world with a gem marking the city of Virginia Beach. Soon after Randy is notified that his wing is fixed, he takes off for a test flight to California and South America. Tonie, who has fallen in love with Randy, watches in tears as his plane disappears into the distance, leaving her alone on the beach. Tonie then goes back to New York to work for her flying teacher, airplane designer Paul Turner. Two years later, Randy returns from South America and asks Paul about Tonie's whereabouts, but Paul claims ignorance. After Randy leaves, Paul tells Tonie of the visit and asks her to fly his prototype in an upcoming New York-Los Angeles race. Because the prize money would provide Paul with the funds that he needs to begin production on the aircraft, Tonie determines to win the race and flies the aircraft to an altitude of 20,000 feet to catch a tail wind. Passing out from lack of oxygen, Tonie regains consciousness as her plane begins to plummet. She manages to level out the craft, but strays from her course and, as a result, finishes last in the race. After Tonie lands in Los Angeles, Randy tries to renew their romance. Although she still carries Randy's cigarette case, Tonie refuses his offer to fly to San Francisco and instead determines to break the world's record by flying to New York that night in less than twelve hours. Tonie takes off without notifying anyone, and as Randy and Paul argue over her, word comes that she has landed in New York and broken the record. Tonie's feat brings her fame and Paul fortune. The night that Johnny mounts a coathook with Tonie's name on it on his clubroom wall, Paul, now a successful plane manufacturer, asks Tonie to marry him and retire from flying. Tonie accepts, but when she sees Randy's name plate next to hers, she tells Paul that she wants to fly around the world solo before they marry. As Tonie begins her journey, Randy follows her progress from Washington, D.C., where he has gone to report sighting a submarine base while flying over the Japanese islands. Because planes are forbidden to fly over the islands, Admiral Graves fears that the Japanese are covertly arming themselves. Tonie's flight gives the admiral an idea on how to send planes over the islands, and he cables her to discontinue her trip and come to Washington to discuss a secret government mission. Tonie receives the admiral's cable when she lands in Honolulu, and after deliberately crashing her plane on the runway, she proceeds to Washington. There, the admiral tells Tonie that the safety of the country depends on her mission and asks her to resume her solo flight and issue a distress call as she nears the Japanese islands. After issuing the distress call, the admiral instructs Tonie to land her craft on the tiny coral reef of Gull Island, where she and her navigator will be picked up by a Navy boat. He explains that Tonie's disappearance will provide Navy surveillance planes with an excuse to fly over the islands, and the Japanese will be unable to protest because of Tonie's fame. After reassuring Paul that she will return, Tonie flies from Miami to New Guinea. At a small hotel there, she meets the navigator assigned to direct her to Gull Island. The man is Randy, who has been ordered to stow away in her plane before takeoff the next morning. On the veranda outside their hotel rooms, Randy proposes to Tonie and tells her that he had planned to propose to her the night she stood him up in Los Angeles. Tonie angrily replies that he is too late, for she is engaged to Paul and would never betray him the way Randy betrayed her. Later that night, Tonie enters the hotel lobby alone, and the desk clerk, Mr. Yokahata, calmly informs her that the Japanese are aware of her mission and plan to rescue her as soon as she lands on Gull Island. Realizing the importance of her assignment, Tonie decides to take off the next morning alone and disappear into the South Seas. Later, as Tonie and Randy stand on their veranda, watching the rain, Tonie confides her love to Randy, and they begin to dream of having a home and family together. When Randy awakens the next morning, however, he discovers that Tonie has gone, leaving behind her cigarette case with an "x" marking Gull Island. Radio reports track Tonie's progress, and soon news comes of her dwindling fuel supply. As she nears Gull Island, Tonie radios in a distress call and then begins to plummet into the sea. Panicking at the last minute, she ascends to an altitude of 20,000 feet, and after she blacks out from lack of oxygen, her plane crashes into the stormy seas. Some time later, Randy leads an American bombing mission on the Japanese islands, and after dropping his load of bombs, he pulls out Tonie's cigarette case and places a check mark on the target. +

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.