This week’s mystery movie was the 1930 version of the First National picture “Dawn Patrol,” which was renamed “Flight Commander” when Warner Bros. sold the film to TV to prevent confusion with the 1938 remake starring Errol Flynn. according to the intro by TCM host Robert Osborne.
The movie was based on a story by John Monk Saunders (later novelized by Guy Fowler) and directed by Howard Hawks, with adaptation and dialogue by Dan Totheroh, Howard Hawks and Seton Miller. Photography was by Ernest Haller, aerial photography by Elmer Dyer, edited by Ray Curtiss, art director Jack Okey, the aeronautic supervisor was Leo Nomis, general music director was Erno Rapee, special technical effects by Fred Jackman and the Vitaphone Orchestra was directed by Leo F. Forbstein.
The film’s credits list Richard Barthlemess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton, Clyde Cook, James Finlayson, Gardner James, William Janney and Edmund Breon.
Here’s a link to Mary Mallory’s post about Dick Grace, Hollywood’s Sky Pilot that discusses many early aviation films. Mary passes along the names of the pilots in his “Squadron of Death.” Hallock Rouse, Ross Cooke, Clement Phillips, Charles Snoffer, Frank Baker, B. M. Spencer, Lonnie Hay and E. D. Baxter
Mary also passes along this ad for “Dawn Patrol,” which says the film used 40 stunt fliers.
Monday’s mystery guest is truly a mystery. He has a small speaking part, but alas, he isn’t identified in the credits or in the IMDB listing of the mystery film. Perhaps the illustrious Brain Trust can shed some light on his identity.
Update: Our young lad remains unidentified. He plays a character named Blythe at roughly the 25-minute mark who says he has 7 1/2 hours experience flying combat.
Tuesday’s mystery fellow is also unidentified in the credits and in IMDB. He has a much larger role than Monday’s mystery chap.
This mystery chap remains unidentified. He plays a character named Spires in a scene that begins at roughly the 45-minute mark. He has been wounded and is helped from his plane. He delivers the news that Von Richter has “moved in across the line.”
Michael Ryerson suggests John Arledge and “All Quiet on the Western Front” (alas, wrong movie), and Patrick suggests Sidney Blackmer. Again, Monday’s mystery chap isn’t identified anywhere and I’m hoping that the Brain Trust will recognize him.
And for Wednesday, we have a less mysterious chap.
This is, of course, James Finlayson.
Tuesday’s mystery guest is, alas, unidentified anywhere and I’m hoping the Brain Trust can shed some light on his identity. Julie Merholz suggests Victor Jory and Chrisbo suggests “a young Millard Mitchell.” Jory is an interesting guess – although our mystery guest doesn’t sound like Jory.
For Thursday, our mystery character is identified, but not the actor, either in the film credits or on IMDB. He would certainly get a credit today. Again, I hoping that the Brain Trust will be able to identify him.
Update: Many people identified this fellow as Howard Hawks in a cameo appearance, and there is a precedent in various sources that state Hawks played a German pilot in the film.
Here’s the problem.
A detail of Howard Hawks and Richard Barthlemess on the set of “Dawn Patrol,” via Getty Images.
And a detail of a second photo.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Howard Hawks and Richard Barthlemess on the set of “Dawn Patrol,” via Getty Images.
In both images (which were probably taken in the same session), Hawks is clean-shaven, while the actor playing Von Richter has a mustache. Is this Hawks? I’ll say it isn’t.
Mary Mallory has identified the mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest and has a good idea about Tuesday’s mystery guest as well. More information to come on Saturday after the name of the mystery movie is revealed.
The Brain Trust roll call: David Inman (Wednesday’s mystery guest), McDee (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest), Michael Ryerson (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest), Jenny M (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest), Sarah (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest), Patrick (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest) and Dennis Gilliam (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest).
Michael Ryerson says: Note to Lee Ann: I’ve always liked John Arledge too, perhaps especially his last turn in Dark Passage where he delivers a touching (if somewhat maudlin) soliloquy in the bus station about disconnectedness and alienation (under the threatening gaze of a suspicious policeman played by Ian MacDonald/Frank Miller/High Noon).
And for Friday, we have Joe Flynn in “McHale’s Navy Joins the Air Force.”
And finally, Richard Barthlemess.
Thursday’s mystery photo was particularly interesting. The actor is not identified, but IMDB credits the mystery director with a cameo as “German Pilot,” but is it this German pilot? Tune in tomorrow for more.
Brain Trust roll call: Gary Martin (mystery movie and director’s cameo), Barbara Klein (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery guest, director’s cameo), Rick (mystery movie), Patrick (director’s cameo), Benito (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery guest) and Dan Nather (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest).
Barbara suggests that Monday’s mystery chap is Dave O’Brien, famed in all the Pete Smith shorts and “Reefer Madness,” who is listed in IMDB in an uncredited bit part. I looked at that possibility before I posted the photo and really, I don’t see a resemblance.
BTW, TCM recently aired the later remake of this mystery film and it’s surprising how much footage was reused. What’s even more interesting is that the shots are much sharper and clearer in the remake than they are in this film. A question to ponder.