20,000 Men a Year (1939)

82-83 mins | Drama | 27 October 1939

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HISTORY

The working titles for this film were Aviation Story and Air Story . The film opens with the following inscription: "The nationally-sponsored program of training students to fly, which inspired this picture, is an education for the uses of peace--not war. For dramatic purposes, and to demonstrate the power and reliability of modern planes in great emergencies, this story portrays a flight adventure under purely fictional circumstances." Twentieth Century-Fox reported in a press release that executive producer Sol Wurtzel personally selected this story and sent the screenwriters to the University of Washington at Seattle to study an actual college flight training program. The Box review stated that this college training program was a "part of a recently announced government project." Allan Dwan was originally scheduled to direct this film, but was replaced by Al Greene just prior to production. The film did some location shooting at Occidental College in Los Angeles, as well as at the Monrovia Airport in Monrovia, California. A second unit was sent to Cedar City, Utah as well, to shoot some of the aerial sequences. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library reports that Gail Patrick was considered for the role of "Ann Rogers," as were Frank Jenks, Warren Hymer, Cliff Edwards, Slim Summerville and Guinn Williams for the role of "Walt Dugan." The Call Bureau Cast Service and DV review mistakenly call Scott's character "Chuck ... More Less

The working titles for this film were Aviation Story and Air Story . The film opens with the following inscription: "The nationally-sponsored program of training students to fly, which inspired this picture, is an education for the uses of peace--not war. For dramatic purposes, and to demonstrate the power and reliability of modern planes in great emergencies, this story portrays a flight adventure under purely fictional circumstances." Twentieth Century-Fox reported in a press release that executive producer Sol Wurtzel personally selected this story and sent the screenwriters to the University of Washington at Seattle to study an actual college flight training program. The Box review stated that this college training program was a "part of a recently announced government project." Allan Dwan was originally scheduled to direct this film, but was replaced by Al Greene just prior to production. The film did some location shooting at Occidental College in Los Angeles, as well as at the Monrovia Airport in Monrovia, California. A second unit was sent to Cedar City, Utah as well, to shoot some of the aerial sequences. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library reports that Gail Patrick was considered for the role of "Ann Rogers," as were Frank Jenks, Warren Hymer, Cliff Edwards, Slim Summerville and Guinn Williams for the role of "Walt Dugan." The Call Bureau Cast Service and DV review mistakenly call Scott's character "Chuck Allen." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28-Oct-39
---
Daily Variety
21 Oct 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Nov 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 39
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Oct 39
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Oct 39
p. 43, 46
New York Times
28 Oct 39
p. 11.
Variety
25 Oct 39
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Cosmopolitan Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Aerial photo
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Chief pilot
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Air Story
Aviation Story
Release Date:
27 October 1939
Production Date:
26 August--October 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
27 October 1939
Copyright Number:
LP9365
Physical Properties:
Sound
High Fidelity RCA Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
82-83
Length(in feet):
7,656
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5707
SYNOPSIS

On the Pacific Airlines' flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, the plane hits a thick bank of fog. One passenger assures another that things will be okay as Brad Reynolds is the pilot. Reynolds and his co-pilot, Al Williams, are told by their dispatcher to re-route to Saugus, but Brad safely lands in Los Angeles anyway. Jim Howell, the Southwestern representative for the Civil Aeronautics Authority, and Brad's old adversary, suspends Brad for sixty days. Brad quits in a huff and buys the Comet Airport in Riverdale, California. The airport, except for mechanic Walt Dorgan, is more liability than asset. Brad is even forced to refund his top student Skip Rogers' deposit when his sister Ann tells him that Skip is flying without adult consent. As the bank is about to foreclose on the airport, Brad goes back to Pacific to ask for his old job, but is told that he is too old. The CAA, meanwhile, decides to try a college student flight training program at selected universities, with local airports as the training grounds. Unknown to Brad, Jim convinces Riverdale banker Crandall to get Brad the bid, as nearby Western Institute of Technology is one of the chosen campuses. Brad becomes a college instructor and begins selecting and training his students. Transferring to Western from Texas State is Tommy Howell, Jim's little brother, who becomes Skip's roommate. Skip, unable to get his sister's permission to fly, arranges a meeting between Brad and Ann, who compromise by letting Skip take a ground crew course. During flight training, Tommy acts cocky, but admits to Brad ... +


On the Pacific Airlines' flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, the plane hits a thick bank of fog. One passenger assures another that things will be okay as Brad Reynolds is the pilot. Reynolds and his co-pilot, Al Williams, are told by their dispatcher to re-route to Saugus, but Brad safely lands in Los Angeles anyway. Jim Howell, the Southwestern representative for the Civil Aeronautics Authority, and Brad's old adversary, suspends Brad for sixty days. Brad quits in a huff and buys the Comet Airport in Riverdale, California. The airport, except for mechanic Walt Dorgan, is more liability than asset. Brad is even forced to refund his top student Skip Rogers' deposit when his sister Ann tells him that Skip is flying without adult consent. As the bank is about to foreclose on the airport, Brad goes back to Pacific to ask for his old job, but is told that he is too old. The CAA, meanwhile, decides to try a college student flight training program at selected universities, with local airports as the training grounds. Unknown to Brad, Jim convinces Riverdale banker Crandall to get Brad the bid, as nearby Western Institute of Technology is one of the chosen campuses. Brad becomes a college instructor and begins selecting and training his students. Transferring to Western from Texas State is Tommy Howell, Jim's little brother, who becomes Skip's roommate. Skip, unable to get his sister's permission to fly, arranges a meeting between Brad and Ann, who compromise by letting Skip take a ground crew course. During flight training, Tommy acts cocky, but admits to Brad that he is afraid to fly and does so only to please his brother. Brad offers Tommy secret early morning lessons. Jim, thinking that Brad is unfairly grading his brother, gets into a fight with Brad, which is broken up by the arrival of some flight students. During one of Tommy's secret lessons over a cavernous mountain range, the plane's oil line breaks. Tommy panics, forcing Brad to knock him out in order to release the throttle. Tommy, thinking the plane is crashing, parachutes out. Brad lands the plane and convinces a farmer to drive him back to the airport, and then takes a second plane up to search for Tommy, with Skip forcing his way along. They find Tommy hanging by his parachute from a tree over a cliff. Brad lands the plane and climbs the tree to release Tommy. A branch breaks, and Brad falls and injures both legs, making him unable to fly. When they don't return, Walt is forced to tell Dean Norris all. Norris calls Jim and a search begins. The next morning, Skip tells Brad that the search planes cannot see them in the canyon and that he must fly the plane out himself if the two are to survive. Brad agrees, giving Skip strict instructions on how to fly the plane out of the canyon. Skip does so, but unknowingly loses his left landing gear to a mountain top. At Comet Airport, Jim and his boss, Gerald Grant, await word from the search parties. Seeing the plane trying to land without its gear, Walt blocks the runway with his jeep until Jim can take another plane up to warn Skip and Brad. Learning of the problem, Brad tells Skip how to execute a two-point landing. On his second pass at the runway, Skip successfully lands the plane. Tommy, Skip and the others finish their pilot training, as Brad and Ann, now together, watch from below. Walt offers Ann his lucky baby shoes, telling her that, with Brad, she will need them. +

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.