One of the best Hollywood aviation dramas, TEST PILOT sparkles with a great cast and sprightly direction by Fleming, a "man's director" who had the good sense to feature a great female performer, Loy, in this action film. Gable plays a world-renowned test pilot who meets and marries farm
girl Loy. She wants him to settle down, but Gable--who calls the sky "that lady all dressed in blue"--deeply enjoys putting his life on the line. When Army general Hinds requests that Gable test the Army's new B-17 bomber, Gable accepts the challenge. Loy is on the verge of a crackup by the time
Gable and his copilot-buddy Tracy climb into the bomber. Gable pushes the plane beyond its presumed limit and keeps going, trying to reach 30,000 feet. The bomber cannot take the pressure and gives out, plummeting earthward in a screaming nosedive...
According to some sources (though not Lynn Tornabee, author of the Gable biography Long Live the King), it was actually Tracy who, during the production of this film, gave Gable the sobriquet for which he would be forever known. Reportedly, as Tracy attempted to drive into the MGM lot one morning,
his car was blocked by scores of screaming female fans who were besieging Gable, demanding that the star sign their pictures of him. Tracy beeped his horn, but the fans ignored him. Finally, the frustrated Tracy stood up in his convertible and shouted at Gable, "Long live the king! And now, for
Christ's sake, let's get inside and go to work!" The prop department subsequently made Gable a cardboard crown lined with rabbit's fur, after which Ed Sullivan heard about the incident and conducted a nationwide poll to find out who the king and queen of Hollywood really were. Fans overwhelmingly
elected Gable and Loy. Tracy was frequently frustrated at having to perform in support of screen idol Gable and is said to have stretched out some of his own scenes to insure that he would make a good impression. Regardless, the rapport of the three leads is the film's greatest strength. Buoyed as
well by its stunning aerial photography, TEST PILOT was a box-office smash.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: One of the best Hollywood aviation dramas, TEST PILOT sparkles with a great cast and sprightly direction by Fleming, a "man's director" who had the good sense to feature a great female performer, Loy, in this action film. Gable plays a world-renowned test… (more)