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HISTORY

Jules Furthman's credit reads: "Written and produced by Jules Furthman." According to a 13 Sep 1948 HR article, Paul Short bought the original story for Jet Pilot , written by Robert Hardy Andrews, and planned to produce the film with a cast including Audie Murphy, Rory Calhoun and Rhonda Fleming. On 23 Sep 1948, however, DV reported that producer and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes had purchased the story, which the article erroneously stated was written by Short.
       Tight security and multiple personnel changes marked the film’s complicated production history, which, according to various sources, lasted more than eighteen months. According to late 1949 HR news items, Hughes considered George Marshall as a director. Modern sources indicate that Hughes briefly hired director Peter Godfrey, then replaced him with Josef von Sternberg, who worked on the film until Feb 1950. According to a Jun 1949 HR item, Robert Stevenson was also considered to direct, and Robert Sparks to produce. HR news items and modern sources note that several directors shot background and 2d unit footage for the picture, including Jules Furthman, Byron Haskin and Don Siegel.
       HR news items recount several delays in production due to last-minute script changes, retakes and budget cutting. According to a 21 Nov 1949 HR article, the Air Force cooperated with the production, which required tight security measures. Hughes hired experienced fliers to pilot the military jets, including, according a modern source, world-famous pilot Chuck Yeager, who had broken the sound barrier in 1947. Information found in HR items and the RKO production files contained at ... More Less

Jules Furthman's credit reads: "Written and produced by Jules Furthman." According to a 13 Sep 1948 HR article, Paul Short bought the original story for Jet Pilot , written by Robert Hardy Andrews, and planned to produce the film with a cast including Audie Murphy, Rory Calhoun and Rhonda Fleming. On 23 Sep 1948, however, DV reported that producer and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes had purchased the story, which the article erroneously stated was written by Short.
       Tight security and multiple personnel changes marked the film’s complicated production history, which, according to various sources, lasted more than eighteen months. According to late 1949 HR news items, Hughes considered George Marshall as a director. Modern sources indicate that Hughes briefly hired director Peter Godfrey, then replaced him with Josef von Sternberg, who worked on the film until Feb 1950. According to a Jun 1949 HR item, Robert Stevenson was also considered to direct, and Robert Sparks to produce. HR news items and modern sources note that several directors shot background and 2d unit footage for the picture, including Jules Furthman, Byron Haskin and Don Siegel.
       HR news items recount several delays in production due to last-minute script changes, retakes and budget cutting. According to a 21 Nov 1949 HR article, the Air Force cooperated with the production, which required tight security measures. Hughes hired experienced fliers to pilot the military jets, including, according a modern source, world-famous pilot Chuck Yeager, who had broken the sound barrier in 1947. Information found in HR items and the RKO production files contained at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library list various locations for the filming, including such Air Forces bases as March Field, Hamilton Field and Edwards in California, Lowry Field in Colorado, Kelly Field in Texas, and Eglin Field in Florida; Metro Airport in Los Angeles, San Antonio, TX, North Dakota, Reno and Las Vegas, NV and others. Jet Pilot marked the last released film of actor Richard Rober. The actor died in May 1952. Modern sources add the following photographers to the crew: William Clothier , Thomas Turwiler, Hans Koenecamp, Harold Willman and Kenneth Peach.
       Although release dates for Jet Pilot were announced in HR news items in 1951, 1953 and 1955, in Feb 1957, it was included in a package of completed films that RKO sold to Universal-International, when that studio took over the U. S. and Canadian distribution and sales of all RKO films. Before this deal, Hughes had loaned RKO $8,000,000, using The Conqueror and Jet Pilot as collateral toward the loans. (For more information on the transaction, please consult the note for The Conqueror , above.) Jet Pilot marked the earliest RKO production eventually to be released by Universal. The film received universally poor reviews, with the NYT reviewer referring to it as "silly and sorry" and concluding "It is a dud." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Dec 57
p. 772.
Box Office
21 Sep 1957.
---
Box Office
28 Sep 1957.
---
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1948.
---
Daily Variety
19 Sep 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Sep 57
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1948.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Oct 1949
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1949
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 1949
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 1949
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1949
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 1949
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1950
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1950
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 1951
p. 1, 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1953
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 1955
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1956
p. 1, 9.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1956
p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 1957
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1957
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 57
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Sep 57
p. 538.
New York Times
5 Oct 57
p. 8.
Variety
25 Sep 57
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Fred Grahame
Allen Matthews
Greg Barton
Sam Shack
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Supv of aerial seq
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
Ward
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
Makeup
Makeup
Body makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Project pilot
Pilot
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst prod mgr
Casting
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Technicolor tech
Technicolor asst cam
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1957
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 September 1957
New York opening: 4 October 1957
Production Date:
8 December 1949--8 February 1950
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Teleradio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 September 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9088
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.60:1
Duration(in mins):
112
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14297
SYNOPSIS

At an Air Force base in Alaska, expert pilot Col. Jim Shannon receives word from dispatch that a Russian plane is circling overhead. He orders Maj. Rexford to escort the plane down without injury, and once it has landed, is shocked to discover that the pilot is beautiful young Soviet lieutenant Anna Marladovna. In almost perfect English, Anna, insisting that she be treated with respect, states that she has defected because she fears she will be killed for disobeying orders. Jim does not believe her, but after she asks to shower and begins to remove her clothes in front of him, grows fascinated by her. He then escorts Anna to his superior, Maj. Gen. Black, who offers her sanctuary but in return demands facts and figures about Russian operations. She refuses, prompting Black and Maj. Lester Sinclair to order a reluctant Jim to seduce her in order to gain inside information. To this end, Anna is treated as a guest of the Air Force and assigned her own jet. Over the next few days, she and Jim impress each other with their skilled flying, and with each question she asks, he deduces more about how the Russians fly and where their expertise is deficient. One night, Anna asks for more training, and in response, Jim kisses her and whisks her off to Palm Springs, California, for a weekend trip. There, she becomes enthralled by what she deems “capitalist luxuries” such as steaks, lingerie and large hotel rooms. At night, Jim and Anna kiss again, and agree that they find each other attractive in every way except politically. When they meet up with Rexford and his wife Georgie, however, ... +


At an Air Force base in Alaska, expert pilot Col. Jim Shannon receives word from dispatch that a Russian plane is circling overhead. He orders Maj. Rexford to escort the plane down without injury, and once it has landed, is shocked to discover that the pilot is beautiful young Soviet lieutenant Anna Marladovna. In almost perfect English, Anna, insisting that she be treated with respect, states that she has defected because she fears she will be killed for disobeying orders. Jim does not believe her, but after she asks to shower and begins to remove her clothes in front of him, grows fascinated by her. He then escorts Anna to his superior, Maj. Gen. Black, who offers her sanctuary but in return demands facts and figures about Russian operations. She refuses, prompting Black and Maj. Lester Sinclair to order a reluctant Jim to seduce her in order to gain inside information. To this end, Anna is treated as a guest of the Air Force and assigned her own jet. Over the next few days, she and Jim impress each other with their skilled flying, and with each question she asks, he deduces more about how the Russians fly and where their expertise is deficient. One night, Anna asks for more training, and in response, Jim kisses her and whisks her off to Palm Springs, California, for a weekend trip. There, she becomes enthralled by what she deems “capitalist luxuries” such as steaks, lingerie and large hotel rooms. At night, Jim and Anna kiss again, and agree that they find each other attractive in every way except politically. When they meet up with Rexford and his wife Georgie, however, Anna invites them and another young couple to share her and Jim’s room. Jim is annoyed, but he soon receives word that Anna is about to be deported, and rushes her out of the hotel. As they fly side-by-side in their jets, Anna radios to Jim that she does not want to leave America, and he decides to marry her in order to save her from deportation. When the happily married couple returns, however, Black takes Jim aside and informs him that Anna is actually a spy named is Olga Orliev, and he and Jim devise a secret plan to have her bring Jim back to Russia where he can spy on the Soviets. Jim returns to their hotel room and plays Anna a recording of her revealing secrets to a Russian agent, and although she fears Jim will kill her now that he knows she is a spy, he confesses that he still loves her. They enjoy several more days of romance, and then Jim tells Anna that he has been reprimanded and that she is to be jailed, then deported. While Black watches from the command post, Jim and Anna sneak onto jets and fly back to her station in Siberia. There, her commander, Vassily Sokolov, places them in separate bunks and subjects Jim to questioning each day. When he deduces that Jim is only giving information that the Russians already have access to, he orders Anna to convince Jim to fly their newest fighter jets. Knowing the jets are unsafe, Anna tries to object, but threatened with a transfer, she visits Jim at night to seduce him into complying. She tells him she loves him, and although he does not believe her, he agrees to fly the fighter. Moments later, he reveals that his agreement does not matter, since the fighter is already outdated, and responds to her outrage by ripping her clothes and locking her outside, half naked. Finally, he lets her in and they share another night of passion. Later, however, she finds a matchbox on which he has been making notes, and realizes that he is figuring out, from Sokolov’s questions, what data the Russians lack. Anna is furious that Jim has lied to her, especially after he assures her that she will help him escape. Instead, she threatens to turn him in, after which the Russians will use him as a double agent. After he demands to know if she loves him, she leaves without responding. When she calls Gen. Dmitri Langrad to inform on Jim, however, she finds that she cannot betray him, and later worries that he will be hurt while flying the fighter jet. Just as he boards the jet, she learns from Col. Matoff that they have been secretly feeding Jim a memory-impairing drug and now plan to administer a huge dose, which will destroy his mind. To save him, she eludes a guard who has been assigned to watch her, and then jumps into a jet. She flies near him and radios for him to follow her, shooting down Russian planes to protect him. Chased by more planes, together they fly to safety and land near the American embassy in Vienna. Weeks later in Palm Springs, Anna declares that she prefers steak to Communist ideology. +

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.