Tail Spin (1939)

80 or 83-84 mins | Drama | 27 January 1939

Director:

Roy Del Ruth

Writer:

Frank Wead

Cinematographer:

John Mescall

Editor:

Allen McNeil

Production Designers:

Bernard Herzbrun, Rudolph Sternad

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening credits of the film end with the following statement: "In Acknowledgment of the Splendid help and cooperation by the committee and those others at the National Air Races in Cleveland which made possible this film." HR reported that Sidney Lanfield briefly filled in for director Del Ruth due to illness. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Script Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library states that Jean Arthur, Loretta Young and Frances Dee were all considered for the role of Gerry Lester, as were Mary Treen for the role of Alabama, Jack Haley as Chick, Richard Greene as Tex, and George Barbier as T. P. Lester. According to a Twentieth Century-Fox press release, Fidel La Barba, former flyweight champion, was brought in to coach Alice Faye and Constance Bennett for their fight scene. La Barba was, at the time, under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox as a writer. Press releases also state that the studio paid Union Oil, Standard Oil, and two unnamed drug companies $5,000 to find imitation motor oil that would not harm Faye's eyes in the scene in which her plane's engine blows. Two years earlier at the studio, actor Brian Donlevy was injured and suffered a loss of vision in his left eye because of a similar on-set accident. Seven hundred caricatures of famous people were created for the cafe scene, which required two weeks of work by seven artists. While Alice Faye played an aviatrix in the film, press releases report that, in real life, she suffered from acrophobia. A HR production chart includes John King in the cast, though his participation in ... More Less

The opening credits of the film end with the following statement: "In Acknowledgment of the Splendid help and cooperation by the committee and those others at the National Air Races in Cleveland which made possible this film." HR reported that Sidney Lanfield briefly filled in for director Del Ruth due to illness. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Script Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library states that Jean Arthur, Loretta Young and Frances Dee were all considered for the role of Gerry Lester, as were Mary Treen for the role of Alabama, Jack Haley as Chick, Richard Greene as Tex, and George Barbier as T. P. Lester. According to a Twentieth Century-Fox press release, Fidel La Barba, former flyweight champion, was brought in to coach Alice Faye and Constance Bennett for their fight scene. La Barba was, at the time, under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox as a writer. Press releases also state that the studio paid Union Oil, Standard Oil, and two unnamed drug companies $5,000 to find imitation motor oil that would not harm Faye's eyes in the scene in which her plane's engine blows. Two years earlier at the studio, actor Brian Donlevy was injured and suffered a loss of vision in his left eye because of a similar on-set accident. Seven hundred caricatures of famous people were created for the cafe scene, which required two weeks of work by seven artists. While Alice Faye played an aviatrix in the film, press releases report that, in real life, she suffered from acrophobia. A HR production chart includes John King in the cast, though his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. While John Mescal is credited as the cinematographer by a HR production chart, Karl Freund is credited as the photographer by all other sources. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Jan 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Feb 39
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Dec 38
p. 21.
Motion Picture Herald
4 Feb 39
p. 56, 61
New York Times
11 Feb 39
p. 13.
Variety
1 Feb 39
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Fill-In dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Vocal work
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Fight coach
STAND INS
Stand in
SOURCES
SONGS
"Are You in the Mood for Mischief," words and music by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Tailspin
Release Date:
27 January 1939
Production Date:
24 September--early December 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
10 February 1939
Copyright Number:
LP8831
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80 or 83-84
Length(in feet):
7,590
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4648
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a Hollywood night club, Trixie Lee, a hat check girl, convinces her boss to give her a two-week leave of absence and a $150 advance to visit her sick mother in South Dakota. In actuality, Trixie is a female pilot entered in the Women's Trans-Continental Air Race from Los Angeles to Cleveland. With her partner, Babe Dugan, Trixie pays off the debts on her plane and enters the race. Trixie takes the early lead, but develops an oil leak. With no time for the repair, Trixie blows her engine and crash lands just outside of Cleveland. At the Cleveland airport, Trixie and Babe try to get their plane ready for the National Air Races. Without the money to repair the plane, Trixie convinces a storekeeper to take forty per cent of her prize money instead of cash for the parts she needs. Needing help for her mechanic, Bud, to pull the engine, Trixie recognizes Navy flyer Dick "Tex" Price and gets his help. Tex is met by T. P. Lester, a steel manufacturer, who informs him that his daughter Gerry, Tex's former girl friend, has taken up flying. When Gerry arrives with her new, faster planes, Trixie and the other female pilots think the race is over. They take Gerry to lunch and try to scare her out of the race, but only anger her. After lunch, Trixie calls Gerry a "self-satisfied heel," which leads to a wrestling match. Alabama, another female pilot, tries to scare Gerry during a practice run, but her plane gets caught in Gerry's slip stream and she crashes. At the Field Hospital, Alabama's injuries ... +


At a Hollywood night club, Trixie Lee, a hat check girl, convinces her boss to give her a two-week leave of absence and a $150 advance to visit her sick mother in South Dakota. In actuality, Trixie is a female pilot entered in the Women's Trans-Continental Air Race from Los Angeles to Cleveland. With her partner, Babe Dugan, Trixie pays off the debts on her plane and enters the race. Trixie takes the early lead, but develops an oil leak. With no time for the repair, Trixie blows her engine and crash lands just outside of Cleveland. At the Cleveland airport, Trixie and Babe try to get their plane ready for the National Air Races. Without the money to repair the plane, Trixie convinces a storekeeper to take forty per cent of her prize money instead of cash for the parts she needs. Needing help for her mechanic, Bud, to pull the engine, Trixie recognizes Navy flyer Dick "Tex" Price and gets his help. Tex is met by T. P. Lester, a steel manufacturer, who informs him that his daughter Gerry, Tex's former girl friend, has taken up flying. When Gerry arrives with her new, faster planes, Trixie and the other female pilots think the race is over. They take Gerry to lunch and try to scare her out of the race, but only anger her. After lunch, Trixie calls Gerry a "self-satisfied heel," which leads to a wrestling match. Alabama, another female pilot, tries to scare Gerry during a practice run, but her plane gets caught in Gerry's slip stream and she crashes. At the Field Hospital, Alabama's injuries are discovered not to be serious, but her plane is unrepairable. Tex visits Gerry in her hotel room and tries to convince her not to enter the race. Gerry, learning that her father was behind Tex's visit, orders him out. Gerry and Al Moore, her mechanic, ask Speed Allen to fly the Gerry Lester Special in the Thompson Trophy Speed Race. Trixie and Tex get together that night, and Trixie begins to fall for him. The next day, the Nationals begin. Babe enters the parachute contest and, despite her inexperience, manages to win. Speed, trying to set a new speed record, loses control of the Lester Special and crashes to his death. Lois, his pilot wife, is looked after by the other female pilots and seeks comfort in the Book of Ruth. She tells Gerry not to feel guilty about Speed's death, that it was the way he would have wanted to go. The next morning, Lois takes Speed's plane up and crashes to her death. Trixie tells Gerry that she does not know what it is like to love someone like Lois did, but Gerry tells her that love is why she flies. Just before the Powder Puff race, Trixie receives a telegram from the Sunbeam Oil Company offering her a sponsorship if she wins. Trixie takes the early lead, but Gerry's superior plane quickly overtakes her. On the last lap, Gerry fakes engine trouble and drops out of the race. Trixie wins the race, but Gerry then develops real engine trouble, forcing her to bail out of her plane. She pulls her parachute too soon, snagging it on the plane, and injures herself upon landing. At the hospital, Trixie visits Gerry. Trixie tells Gerry that if she really loves Tex, she must accept him for what he is. Leaving Gerry's room, Trixie runs into Tex and tells him to go back to Gerry with her blessings. Trixie and Babe prepare to return to Los Angeles when another telegram from Sunbeam arrives, offering them $600 a month plus expenses. Bud, who had been planning to return to Akron, takes up Trixie's offer to go to Los Angeles with them. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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