7.2/10
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The Dawn Patrol (1930)

Passed | | Action, Drama, War | 20 August 1930 (USA)
World War I ace Dick Courtney derides the leadership of his superior officer, but Courtney is soon promoted to squadron commander and learns harsh lessons about sending subordinates to their deaths.

Director:

Howard Hawks

Writers:

John Monk Saunders (story "The Flight Commander"), Dan Totheroh (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Barthelmess ... Dick Courtney
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Douglas Scott
Neil Hamilton ... Major Brand
Frank McHugh ... Flaherty
Clyde Cook ... Bott
James Finlayson ... Field Sergeant
Gardner James ... Ralph Hollister
William Janney ... Gordon Scott
Edmund Breon ... Lieut. Phipps
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Storyline

During the First World War, British combat pilot Dick Courtney mocks his commanding officer Major Brand for being too cautious, unaware that Brand is tormented by the requirement of his command that he send young men to their likely deaths in substandard aircraft and with insufficient training. When Brand is transferred, Courtney becomes the commanding officer and quickly realizes the burden Brand labored under. When Courtney's best friend, Douglas Scott, asks him to spare his newly arrived and inexperienced brother Gordon Scott from combat duty, Courtney cannot justify doing so. A rift grows between the friends as Courtney realizes the tragic demands of his job. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"HERE'S TO THE NEXT MAN TO DIE" Will it be the smiling kid with a sweetie in Blighty, or the baby-faced air "vetran" of a few hours? (Print Ad- Albany Evening Journal, ((Albany, NY)) 1 August 1930) See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

20 August 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flight Commander See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$611,722 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Howard Hawks, who was a pilot in the US Army during World War I, flew in the battle scenes as a German pilot. See more »

Goofs

William Janney's character name is credited as "Gordon" on screen, but he is called "Donny" throughout. See more »

Quotes

Major Brand: Officious overdressed brass hat! Orders, orders. Thinks the 59th can't do it, eh? Well, the 59th can do anything he can think up! It's a slaughterhouse, that's what it is, and I'm the executioner!
See more »

Connections

Edited into I'm King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Stand to Your Glasses! (Hurrah for the Next Man to Die)
(uncredited)
Music traditional
Lyrics adapted from poem "The Revel" by Bartholomew Dowling
Played on guitar by an unidentified airman and sung by an unidentified airman and others
Reprised a cappella by the airmen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not quite the greatest air epic ever, still a good one though
12 March 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Having a fondness for a lot of Howard Hawks' films, there was an interest in seeing one of his earliest efforts (his ninth film in fact and his first talkie). 'The Dawn Patrol' is not one of Hawks' best and there is a preference for the 1938 film with Errol Flynn, despite there being the argument of it being pointless it did feel more polished, more natural and every bit as emotional.

1930's 'The Dawn Patrol' does suffer a little from limitations caused in the transition from silent to talkie. The sound quality is primitive and very static, a music score would have helped hugely with providing even more impact and most likely masking this issue. The script can come over as creaky and artificial, and the pacing also has its creaky moments and lacks tautness.

On the other hand, Hawks directs adroitly, and the photography and scenery have a grittiness and luminous quality at all. The flying sequences still come over as remarkably powerful and rousing today, and most of the script is thoughtful and gripping, heavy-handedness wasn't too big an issue here.

'The Dawn Patrol' has a compelling story, perfectly conveying the futility and passion of war, the comrades' horrors and conflicts and showing grace even under pressure.

Characters are not stereotypes in any way, instead compellingly real characters with human and relatable conflicts. The acting is remarkably good for such an early talkie, of course there is some theatricality which to me wasn't that grave a problem. Can find nothing to fault Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr or Neil Hamilton, who all perform with authority and poignancy.

Overall, a good film if not the greatest air epic. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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