Captains of the Clouds (1942)

113 or 115 mins | Drama | 21 February 1942

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HISTORY

The film begins with the following written foreword: "This picture is respectfully dedicated to the Royal Canadian Air Force...With sincere appreciation of their cooperation and admiration for their abilities and courage...To those student pilots in this picture who are now in actual combat overseas...And most particularly is it dedicated to the many in the service who have trailed the shadows of their wings over the vastnesses of Canada from the forty-ninth parallel to the Arctic Circle...The bush pilots." The film ends with the following written acknowledgment: "Sincere appreciation is expressed to Major the Honorable C. G. Power P. C., M. C., Minister of National Defence for Air (Canada) and to Air Marshal L. S. Breadner D.S.C., Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Canadian Air Force, without whose authority and generous co-operation this picture would not have been brought to its splendid conclusion. We also wish to express our thanks to Air Marshal Bishop, V. C. and the other officers and men of the RCAF who in the making of the picture, are portrayed in the actual performance of their regular duties."
       The film's working title was Shadows of Their Wings . News items in HR add the following information about the production: The idea for the film originated with Jack L. Warner and Hal B. Wallis. William Keighley was originally set to direct, but Michael Curtiz stepped in after Keighley was assigned to Warner Bros.' Manpower (see below). George Brent was considered for a role. The scenes featuring the life of the bush pilots were filmed in Ottawa beginning 11 Jul 1941 and were aided by the Canadian government. ... More Less

The film begins with the following written foreword: "This picture is respectfully dedicated to the Royal Canadian Air Force...With sincere appreciation of their cooperation and admiration for their abilities and courage...To those student pilots in this picture who are now in actual combat overseas...And most particularly is it dedicated to the many in the service who have trailed the shadows of their wings over the vastnesses of Canada from the forty-ninth parallel to the Arctic Circle...The bush pilots." The film ends with the following written acknowledgment: "Sincere appreciation is expressed to Major the Honorable C. G. Power P. C., M. C., Minister of National Defence for Air (Canada) and to Air Marshal L. S. Breadner D.S.C., Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Canadian Air Force, without whose authority and generous co-operation this picture would not have been brought to its splendid conclusion. We also wish to express our thanks to Air Marshal Bishop, V. C. and the other officers and men of the RCAF who in the making of the picture, are portrayed in the actual performance of their regular duties."
       The film's working title was Shadows of Their Wings . News items in HR add the following information about the production: The idea for the film originated with Jack L. Warner and Hal B. Wallis. William Keighley was originally set to direct, but Michael Curtiz stepped in after Keighley was assigned to Warner Bros.' Manpower (see below). George Brent was considered for a role. The scenes featuring the life of the bush pilots were filmed in Ottawa beginning 11 Jul 1941 and were aided by the Canadian government. A radio version of the film, starring James Cagney, was broadcast over the NBC Red network on 2 Feb 1942.
       Press material included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library adds the following information: Captains of the Clouds was the first Hollywood picture to be filmed entirely on location in Canada. The film includes scenes of an actual graduating ceremony of the Canadian Royal Air Force, with World War I veteran Air Marshal W. A. "Billy" Bishop in attendance. Bishop also attended the New York opening along with 200 RCAF cadets and other officials. The film opened simultaneously in New York, London, Ottawa, Cairo, Melbourne, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, and copies of the film were transported to these cities by the RCAF. Sol Polito was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Photography (Color). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Jan 1942.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jan 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Jan 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 41
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 42
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Jan 42
p. 475.
New York Times
13 Feb 42
p. 24.
Variety
21 Jan 42
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Paul Cavanaugh
Michael Ames
Tony Marsh
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Aerial photog
Aerial photog
Aerial photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Chief pilot for Warner Bros.
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col dir
Assoc Technicol color dir
SOURCES
SONGS
"Captains of the Clouds," words and music by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Shadows of Their Wings
Release Date:
21 February 1942
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 February 1942
Production Date:
mid July--mid October 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 January 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11086
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
113 or 115
Length(in feet):
10,215
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7627
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

For several years, bush pilots Johnny Dutton, Tiny Murphy, Blimp Lebec and Scrounger Harris have shared the work in their area of Canada. To their dismay, they now find that they are often beaten to the jobs by a new flier, Brian MacLean. Determined to get their revenge, Johnny, Tiny, Blimp and Scrounger chase Brian's airplane and force him to land near the store owned by Foster and his gold-digging daughter Emily, who is also Johnny's fiancée. While leaving his plane, Brian slips and injures his head. When Johnny sees how bad the injury is, he flies to the nearest town to fetch a doctor. By the time Johnny returns, the lake is fogged in, so the other pilots light bonfires to guide him. Johnny lands safely with the doctor, who performs an emergency operation. Although Emily begs Johnny to take her with him when he leaves, Johnny is determined to earn enough money to start his own airline before they get married. Brian stays behind to recuperate, and during his convalescence, he and Emily grow attached to each other. When Johnny returns, he invites Brian to join him and Tiny in a job flying explosives to a mine. Brian agrees after he learns of the heroic effort Johnny made to save his life and breaks off his relationship with Emily for the same reason. The three pilots make enough money for Johnny to start an airline with his share. Brian warns Johnny that if he marries the gold-digging Emily he will not have the money for long, and Johnny angrily strikes out at him. Brian knocks Johnny unconscious in the fight and, determined ... +


For several years, bush pilots Johnny Dutton, Tiny Murphy, Blimp Lebec and Scrounger Harris have shared the work in their area of Canada. To their dismay, they now find that they are often beaten to the jobs by a new flier, Brian MacLean. Determined to get their revenge, Johnny, Tiny, Blimp and Scrounger chase Brian's airplane and force him to land near the store owned by Foster and his gold-digging daughter Emily, who is also Johnny's fiancée. While leaving his plane, Brian slips and injures his head. When Johnny sees how bad the injury is, he flies to the nearest town to fetch a doctor. By the time Johnny returns, the lake is fogged in, so the other pilots light bonfires to guide him. Johnny lands safely with the doctor, who performs an emergency operation. Although Emily begs Johnny to take her with him when he leaves, Johnny is determined to earn enough money to start his own airline before they get married. Brian stays behind to recuperate, and during his convalescence, he and Emily grow attached to each other. When Johnny returns, he invites Brian to join him and Tiny in a job flying explosives to a mine. Brian agrees after he learns of the heroic effort Johnny made to save his life and breaks off his relationship with Emily for the same reason. The three pilots make enough money for Johnny to start an airline with his share. Brian warns Johnny that if he marries the gold-digging Emily he will not have the money for long, and Johnny angrily strikes out at him. Brian knocks Johnny unconscious in the fight and, determined to prevent his friend from making a serious mistake, marries Emily himself. Johnny follows them to Ottawa, but when he learns that they are married, he gives his pay to charity and joins the Royal Canadian Air Force. Now that he knows Johnny is safe from Emily, Brian gives her his pay and leaves her for good. Back in the woods, the other pilots, inspired by a speech by Winston Churchill, join the air force too, but are disappointed to learn that they are too old to fly fighter planes. Their experience makes them valuable teachers, however. Brian has trouble adjusting to military discipline and, after he crashes a plane, is dismissed from the service. Then, during a military ceremony, Brian buzzes the field and causes Tiny's death. When an urgent call goes out to all pilots to help fly planes to England, Brian volunteers using Tiny's name as a pseudonym. Just outside of England, the pilots encounter a German Messerschmidt, whose pilot shoots at the defenseless planes. When Scrounger, who is acting as Brian's navigator, is killed, Brian defies orders once again and crashes his plane into the German, killing them both. Thanks to his efforts, the rest of the squadron files safely into England. +

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.