The Dawn Patrol (1938)

103 or 105 mins | Drama | 24 December 1938

Director:

Edmund Goulding

Cinematographer:

Tony Gaudio

Editor:

Ralph Dawson

Production Designer:

John Hughes

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The print viewed, which was a 2007 DVD release, bore a title card after the opening credits that read: "The Royal Flying Corps France--1915." According to information contained in the production file on the film in the Warner Bros. Archive at the USC Cinema-Television Library, the film originally opened with the following written foreword: "Today, when ominous rumblings of war echo throughout the world again, this story of the last great war is especially significant. On the Western front in 1915, Britain's Royal Flying Corps found itself engaged in a desperate struggle for existence against an enemy of superior size, strength and experience. At that time, the Royal Flying Corps had little except magnificent courage and a grim determination to do its job." It is possible that some existing prints retain the longer prologue.
       Exterior airfield shots were made at Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. Period music includes "Poor Butterfly," words by John L. Golden, music by Raymond Hubbell, T. B. Harms and Francis, Day & Hunter and "Pack up Your Troubles in Your Old Kitbag and Smile, Smile, Smile," words by George Asaf, music by Felix Powell. The Dawn Patrol marked the American motion picture debut of Vienese-born actor Carl Esmond (1908--2004).
       According to the Warner Bros. production files, in 1930 Howard Hughes' Caddo company sued Warner Bros., claiming that certain story ideas and techniques used in the 1930 production of The Dawn Patrol were based on similar ones in Hell's Angels. Hughes lost the suit when it was determined that the disputed ideas originated with John Monk Saunders.
       Saunders had recently left the air ...

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The print viewed, which was a 2007 DVD release, bore a title card after the opening credits that read: "The Royal Flying Corps France--1915." According to information contained in the production file on the film in the Warner Bros. Archive at the USC Cinema-Television Library, the film originally opened with the following written foreword: "Today, when ominous rumblings of war echo throughout the world again, this story of the last great war is especially significant. On the Western front in 1915, Britain's Royal Flying Corps found itself engaged in a desperate struggle for existence against an enemy of superior size, strength and experience. At that time, the Royal Flying Corps had little except magnificent courage and a grim determination to do its job." It is possible that some existing prints retain the longer prologue.
       Exterior airfield shots were made at Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. Period music includes "Poor Butterfly," words by John L. Golden, music by Raymond Hubbell, T. B. Harms and Francis, Day & Hunter and "Pack up Your Troubles in Your Old Kitbag and Smile, Smile, Smile," words by George Asaf, music by Felix Powell. The Dawn Patrol marked the American motion picture debut of Vienese-born actor Carl Esmond (1908--2004).
       According to the Warner Bros. production files, in 1930 Howard Hughes' Caddo company sued Warner Bros., claiming that certain story ideas and techniques used in the 1930 production of The Dawn Patrol were based on similar ones in Hell's Angels. Hughes lost the suit when it was determined that the disputed ideas originated with John Monk Saunders.
       Saunders had recently left the air service when he wrote the story that was the basis for the award-winning film Wings, which was produced in 1927 by Famous Players-Lasky, (See Entry). In 1929, Howard Hawks was looking for an air war story as a vehicle for Ronald Colman, and Saunders wrote the story "Flight Commander," which became the basis of the first The Dawn Patrol, directed by Hawks and starring Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Neil Hamilton (See Entry). The film was novelized by Guy Fowler and Saunders in 1930. Extensive aerial footage and exterior shots from the Hawks film were used in the 1938 remake. In the cast of character list in the end credits of the 1938 film, Leo Nomis is credited as "Aeronatautical supervisor." Nomis, who was a stunt pilot as well as occasional actor, died in 1932, while filming the Warner Bros. film Sky Bride (See Entry). It is possible that Nomis' credit in the 1938 film was based on scenes extracted from the 1930 film. According to memoes in the Warner Bros. files on the film, scenes were planned around the 1930 footage to minimize production expenses. In 1941, Warner Bros. blended aspects of The Dawn Patrol and their 1936 film Ceiling Zero (see entry) and produced Flight Patrol.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1938
p. 3
Film Daily
14 Dec 1938
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1938
pp. 8-9
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1938
pp. 8-9
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1938
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
15 Dec 1938
p. 2
Motion Picture Herald
24 Sep 1938
p. 52
Motion Picture Herald
17 Dec 1938
p. 49
New York Times
24 Dec 1938
p. 12
Variety
14 Dec 1938
p. 14
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
From an orig story by
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
2d cam
Asst cam
Stills
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst cutter
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Edwin A. DuPar
Spec eff
MAKEUP
William Phillips
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Asst pub
STAND INS
Stunt flying
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 December 1938
Production Date:
6 Aug--15 Sep 1938
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
24 October 1938
LP8481
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
103 or 105
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
4585
SYNOPSIS

Major Brand, the commanding officer of a squadron of the British Royal Flying Corps stationed in France, has been called a butcher by his top officer, Captain Courtney, because of his hardened attitude toward sending inexperienced young flyers to their death. Courtney and his best friend, Lieutenant Scott, have their own way of coping with the constant death of new recruits; they drink a toast to the dead, sing a song, and then go back to devising diverting, thrill-seeking pranks. When German ace flyer Von Richter taunts the men from his plane, Courtney and Scott seize the opportunity to steal two planes and bomb the enemy camp. Brand is furious at their insubordination, but when the news arrives that they have destroyed the German camp, their devil-may-care attitude is forgiven. Unexpectedly, Brand is promoted and Courtney is appointed squadron commander, but he proves unable to manage the responsibility of his new position and begins to drink heavily. His guilt is compounded when Scott's younger brother Donnie arrives with a new group of inexperienced replacements. Courtney puts duty before personal loyalty and sends Donnie to his death. Scott holds Courtney personally responsible and, having lost his will to live, volunteers for a suicide mission behind enemy lines. This time, Courtney puts friendship first and flies the mission himself. Not only does he hit his target, but he brings down the villainous Von Richter before he dies. Scott, now first in command, is left with the burden of sending boys to certain ...

More Less

Major Brand, the commanding officer of a squadron of the British Royal Flying Corps stationed in France, has been called a butcher by his top officer, Captain Courtney, because of his hardened attitude toward sending inexperienced young flyers to their death. Courtney and his best friend, Lieutenant Scott, have their own way of coping with the constant death of new recruits; they drink a toast to the dead, sing a song, and then go back to devising diverting, thrill-seeking pranks. When German ace flyer Von Richter taunts the men from his plane, Courtney and Scott seize the opportunity to steal two planes and bomb the enemy camp. Brand is furious at their insubordination, but when the news arrives that they have destroyed the German camp, their devil-may-care attitude is forgiven. Unexpectedly, Brand is promoted and Courtney is appointed squadron commander, but he proves unable to manage the responsibility of his new position and begins to drink heavily. His guilt is compounded when Scott's younger brother Donnie arrives with a new group of inexperienced replacements. Courtney puts duty before personal loyalty and sends Donnie to his death. Scott holds Courtney personally responsible and, having lost his will to live, volunteers for a suicide mission behind enemy lines. This time, Courtney puts friendship first and flies the mission himself. Not only does he hit his target, but he brings down the villainous Von Richter before he dies. Scott, now first in command, is left with the burden of sending boys to certain death.

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GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Aviation, World War I


Subject

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.