The Dawn Patrol
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Dawn Patrol, The (1938) (DVD)
Errol Flynn and David Niven star as roustabout French Corp fighter pilots who come face-to-face with the harsh realities of war. Basil Rathbone is outstanding as the Squadron Commander.]]>
The Dawn Patrol is a beautiful title for two very good movies Warner Bros. made eight years apart, in 1930 and 1938. Both tell the same World War I story (which won a 1930 Academy Award for John Monk Saunders), about a succession of flight commanders at a British air base in France. Each officer in turn has to keep sending pilots out on dangerous, often insane missions in flimsy, patched-up planes, then pray that even half get back alive. The job is soul-killing for the commandants and deadly for their comrades and friends. Make that former friends.
It's the later, Errol Flynn version of The Dawn Patrol that's won DVD release. The original is rarely shown because, despite direction by Howard Hawks, it suffers from the stiffness and some overly declamatory acting characteristic of the early talkie era. Perhaps more to the point, the remake's cast has greater marquee value: Flynn and David Niven as hotshots Courtney and Scott; Basil Rathbone as Major Brand, the tortured commander whom Flynn will be obliged to succeed; Donald Crisp, Melville Cooper, and Barry Fitzgerald as staff officers and noncoms. Edmund Goulding's direction is proficient, if also impersonal.
So the remake has the edge as smooth entertainment, though not the original's raw power (or Griffith veteran Richard Barthelmess's tender, anguished performance as Courtney). And the best parts of the 1938 version are the original film: all the aerial footage--bombings, crashes, breathtaking low-level flying, and wobbly takeoffs in the glow of early morning--is Hawks's. Ideally, Warner Video should have issued both films, and in one box. --Richard T. Jameson
- Warner Night at the Movies 1938: Vintage newsreel, musical shorts "The Prisoner of Swing" and "Romance Road," classic cartoon "What Price Porky?"
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Fellow pilots Courtney and Scott (portrayed by real-life friends Flynn and David Niven, again showing the rapport they had demonstrated so effectively in 1936's THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE) are battle-tested veterans, hell-raising survivors of a squadron decimated by the war. Seeing a constant influx of 'green' kids replacing lost friends, and knowing too well that the rookies' inexperience will quickly cost them their lives, the pair vent their anger against their commander, the coldly 'by-the-book' Maj. Brand (in a remarkable performance by frequent Flynn nemesis, Basil Rathbone). Courtney constantly condemns and belittles Maj. Brand, accusing him of placing 'The Mission' over the lives of the men under his command, which makes Courtney a hero in the eyes of the fliers.
Finally, Brand cracks, and is approved for reassignment, and Courtney is chosen to replace him. In a powerful scene, Brand lets his cold 'facade' down, and reveals, bitterly, to the younger man that seeing his men sent on suicide missions, daily, had literally crushed him. Unknown to the squadron, Brand had constantly begged HQ to ease up, but had been 'shot down' each time, as the missions were essential. "Now it's YOUR turn," Brand sneers, "See how YOU enjoy it!"
Brand's words are prophetic, as Courtney quickly discovers himself in the same situation, as the despised scapegoat, with Scott assuming the role of spokesperson and savior to the squadron. And the most dangerous mission yet has just come down from HQ...
DAWN PATROL is a powerful film, with great performances from the entire cast, particularly Flynn, who had often begged the WB to give him roles beyond his 'swashbuckler' image. The critical praise it garnered proved Flynn's versatility as an actor (although public demand would keep him 'locked' into adventure films), and raised David Niven up to 'star' status.
It remains one of the BEST films about the 'Great War', and shouldn't be missed!
The aerial sequences are visually impressive and exciting. Errol Flynn and David Niven are appropriately dashing as they face danger with courage fierce in their eyes. Between missions, they engage in riotous humor and playful hi-jinks to ease the tension. One senses, however, there is an enforced gaiety to their antics to counter the rigors of war. Courtney evolves from the gallant flyer into the harassed commander. Finally, an especially dangerous mission is ordered. The mission is impossible to achieve for an entire squadron, but "one man, flying low" might succeed. As an act of personal redemption, Courtney takes the place of the incapacitated Scott, and flies the mission. The film balances the romantic visions of war as adventure with the hard realities of aerial combat. There is chivalry and grace, but also frailty and breakdown. The glory is tempered by the memory of fallen comrades, some of whom never had a chance. This film is a stark contrast to Errol Flynn's more light-hearted adventure movies (e.g., Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, etc.) The aerial dogfights, the air attack on the enemy munitions factory, and the destruction of the enemy aerodrome are exciting enough to please action fans. The anti-war elements of the film are thought provoking. A fine cast and an intelligent script make this more than just another war movie. Recommended viewing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Genuine perspective of aerodrome barracks life, and distance from HQ army commanders.Read more