The original, but for once, not the best. Director Howard Hawks's first foray into sound cinema shows his typically interesting and exciting visuals, but there is little evidence of his future skill with dialogue in the stilted and overly talky screenplay penned by Totheroh, Miller, and
The action takes place during WWI, and Richard Barthelmess and Douglas Fairbanks are hot-dog aces of the British air corps who consistently disobey orders to settle disputes of "honor" with the Germans. After German fliers taunt the pair regarding their flying prowess, Barthelmess and Fairbanks
jump into their planes and ruthlessly attack a helpless German air squadron, killing many pilots before they can get off the ground. On their return, outraged commanding officer Neil Hamilton vents his fury on the boyish pilots, only to be suddenly handed a message telling him that he has been
transferred to another unit. Hamilton delights in telling Barthelmess that he is now in command and perhaps now he will develop a sense of responsibility when he must deal with a group of unruly fliers like himself.
Hawks's film is a strong antiwar statement which illustrates the futility of heroics that only end in death on both sides. The dogfight footage is some of the best aerial fighting photography ever filmed, but the movie suffers from the stagey, stiff dialogue sequences that obviously frustrated
Hawks. DAWN PATROL was re-made in 1938 by Edmund Goulding starring Basil Rathbone, Errol Flynn, and David Niven, and it is this version that modern-day audiences find easier to sit through due to the more polished handling of the dialogue sequences.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The original, but for once, not the best. Director Howard Hawks's first foray into sound cinema shows his typically interesting and exciting visuals, but there is little evidence of his future skill with dialogue in the stilted and overly talky screenplay… (more)