Published on September 10th, 2007 | by Chris1
You know, just because something's old, doesn't mean it isn't any good. 1929's Flight is yet another example. One of Frank Capra's early films, it stands as a classic.
The entire movie is a bonified period piece, that's for sure. There's no denying the era it comes from. It's packed full of slang, mannerisms, social norms, and a lot more. Most of it is just plain swell(!), while at least a couple of times you cringe at what today is considered taboo.
Really this picture is a lot of fun, I found myself laughing the whole way through. Most of it was designed that way, but a lot of that was just at the 20's style and dialog. That doesn't detract from it in any way at all. A lot of the acting and dialog seemed to me to be very improvised and "off the cuff", which does nothing but add to the charm. The overall style and approach is very different from pictures of today, especially the noticably absent musical soundtrack throughout most of the film.
"Lefty" Philips (Ralph Graves) has just come off of a terrible misplay at the Rose Bowl game, where he ran the wrong way and almost scored for the opposite team. While avoiding ridicule, he comes across Sgt. "Panama" Williams (Jack Holt), and decides he wants to become a Marine Corps. aviator... and the fun commences.
It's at the base where Lefty meets Elinor (Lila Lee), a nurse who Panama also has designs on....
Seems that Lefty can't even fly correctly, and winds up as Panama's mechanic as they're shipped off to Nicaragua to battle the revolutionaries who have been fighting with the Marines there. Before they leave, though, Lefty discovers Panama's affections for Elinor.
While in Nicaragua, who should show up on nurse duty but Elinor. And for some reason, the veteran Panama can't get up the nerve to ask Elinor to marry him, so he asks Lefty to do it. He reluctantly agrees, and the secret's out, leaving Panama and he to duke it out.
But not before the bugle sounds. And with that we're shown one of the earliest (that I know) examples of close air support on film. Really remarkable when you think about it, just a few short years after the airplane was even invented. The battle rages on, with Lefty and Panama acting as gunners/observers on separate aircraft.
Lefty's plane is brought down, and its up to Elinor to convince Panama to find him after the CO calls off the search. Of course he's found, and the two resolve their differences in a display of aerobatics that'll turn your head (and Panama's stomach!)
The lighthearted fun of this picture is just great to behold. Like a lot of pre-World War II "war movies", it has a certain degree of optimism that brings a smile to your face.
Thanks to Turner Classic Movies yet again for digging this one out. It's clear that this picture is in need of some restoration work, the scratches and dust, missing frames, and badly degraded audio prove that. But even through its physical flaws, this classic shines through.
Summary: The entire movie is a bonified period piece, that's for sure. There's no denying the era it comes from. It's packed full of slang, mannerisms, social norms, and a lot more. Most of it is just plain swell(!), while at least a couple of times you cringe at what today is considered taboo.