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Night Flight (1933)

3.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Night Flight (DVD)

Polio breaks out in Rio de Janeiro, the serum is in Santiago and there's only one way to get the medicine where it's desperately needed: flown in by daring pilots who risk the treacherous weather and forbidding peaks of the Andes.



A fascinating combination of elements went into this 1933 opus: the source book by Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the handsome gloss of prime-era MGM, and a cast that dazzles like nobody's business. The crowd of stars is led by John Barrymore, as the no-guff chief of a South American airline; Clark Gable, Robert Montgomery, and William Gargan as hotshot flyboys; Helen Hayes and Myrna Loy as nervous pilots' wives; and Lionel Barrymore, crotchety as all get-out, playing his real-life brother's itchy second-in-command. Ah, but all of those stars are upstaged by the real reason to see the film: in an age of great flying pictures, Night Flight boasts some spectacular (at times downright eerie) aerial photography. And if the story tends toward cornball conventions, it does make room for some of Saint-Exupéry's lyrical feeling for the intoxication of flying; he'd been a mail pilot in South America, and his book drew on some of the adventures of flying after dark and the terrifying journey over the Andes. John Barrymore is stuck with the corniest role, a by-god-we'll-get-the-mail-there-on-time-or-die-trying autocrat, but still--he's Barrymore, and he puts it over. Gable's entire performance takes place in his plane, Montgomery gets to dash around a bit on the ground, and Helen Hayes makes the most of one of her rare big-screen appearances. Director Clarence Brown may have been best known for his collaborations with Greta Garbo, but he was also a World War I pilot, and the liberating sense of being above the clouds will be the lasting takeaway from this movie. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Clark Gable
  • Directors: Clarence Brown
  • Writers: Oliver H.P. Garrett
  • Producers: Clarence Brown, David O. Selznick
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 7, 2011
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,622 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Night Flight (1933)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This Clarence Brown directed MGM pre-code classic has not seen the light of day in over 60 years due to legal issues. What a find! A follow up of sorts to Grand Hotel but it falls short of that mark by only running 85 min this was originally almost two hours but cuts were made after the first preview. This has "All The Stars In The Heavens" of MGM in it. Top billed John Barrymore has a very good role along side his scene stealing brother Lionel. This was the last time they would work together. Clark Gable you never see outside of his airplane and has little dialogue but he shows us why he was " The King" with so little to work with he is amazing. He is teamed with the great Helen Hayes just after their film "The White Sister" unfortunatly no scenes together but she a a very moving scene with John Barrymore showing us why she was a truimph on the stage. Robert Montgomery is a playboy flyer has a great entrance and rounding out the cast are Myrna Loy looking stunning as a concerned wife of pilot William Gargan. The night flying scenes are very well done and the ladies are looking stunning. Very well done and thank you to Warners for putting this as as a regular DVD. This is NOT a Archives DVD-R. The print is fine and crisp just what you would expect. Well done with a bonus short and a cartoon. I can only hope Warners will untie the legal ties to another MGM pre-code classic by Clarence Brown starring Joan Crawford, Robert Montgomery and Nils Asther "Letty Lynton" this deserves to be restored and released as a DVD and also "The Constant Nymph" Warners 1943 classic starring Joan Fontain, Charles Boyer and Alexis Smith needs to be out on DVD but until then but "Night Flight and let them know we want thes "Lost" gems to be available and if you love classic movies you will love this one so sit back and enjoy the flight.
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Format: DVD
Warner Archive Collection is releasing the first MGM "Night Flight(1933)" DVD, although a "grey-market" VHS copy has been available for several years. "Night Flight" was withdrawn from circulation in 1942 due to a rights issue. A joy and a disappointment, "Night Flight" is based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery's best seller about South American airmail pioneers in the early 20th century. John Barrymore stars as A. Riviere, managing director of Trans_Andean Mail Service. Riviere is ruthless in ensuring the timely delivery of the mails. He demands that pilots deliver their cargo at any cost; despite any danger. One pilot must deliver a precious vaccine to the infantile paralysis unit at the City Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, before one child, one special child, dies...John and Lionel Barrymore dominate "Night Flight". It was the fifth and final MGM pairing of the famous brothers, and sadly, their weakest film together. Robert Montgomery appears in two or three scenes. Clark Gable is seen in just one sequence, in the cockpit of his plane. Helen Hayes, as his adoring wife, has no scenes with him at all. Myrna Loy, now a success after appearing with John in "Topaze", is in one scene. Dont' blink. You'll miss her. "Night Flight" is disjointed, with some sequences stilted and theatrical, as director Clarence Brown uses "wipes" to segue from one aerial shot to another. There are some good shots of aircraft during a night-time voyage(done with miniatures) and a well-done storm scene. But the movie creaks in a Hollywood ending with "ghost pilots" emerging from the sea and floating up to heaven. During production, John Barrymore was called in to producer David O. Selznick's office for not knowing his lines. He had been drinking.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
For no very good reason, someone at MGM decided that Antoine de Saint-Exupery's bestseller about running mail by air across the South American continent (based on his own experiences) would make a great all-star film along the lines of GRAND HOTEL the year before: both Barrymores are here again (John as Riviere, the splenetic boss of the transcontinetal mail operation, with Lionel as his whining flunky), and so too as aviators are Robert Montgomery and Clark Gable (the latter in a part that is practically non-speaking), and also with Helen Hayes as Gable's adoring wife and Myrna Loy as another pilot's wife (she is billed simply as "Wife of the Brazilian Pilot" even though her name was plastered all over the posters advertising the movie with the other stars). There's lots of tedious melodrama, most of which involves either Hayes making fussy preparations for a private dinner with Gable once he delivers his mail or John Barrymore arching his eyebrows and expostulating in front of a 20-foot tall lighted map of South America in his office which lets the audience know where the mail planes are as the plot progresses.

The stuff of real interest is what lies in between: the spectacular footage of small planes flying through storm and fog and between mountains (they couldn't fly above them at the time because of technological limitations) to bring the mail to Buenos Aires. The influence of the German Bergenfilms so popular at the time is quite evident here, and the aerial footage is astonishing, and makes it possible to tolerate the all-star dramatics. Loy fares the best here, despite the smallness of her part; she genuinely brings some conviction to her short speech, while Hayes emotes all over the place in her much larger and showier role.
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