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FLYING FLEET, THE (director: George W. Hill; screenwriters: from a story by Frank W. Wead & Byron Morgan/Richard Schayer; cinematographer: Ira H. Morgan; editor: Blanche Sewell; music: David Mendoza/William Axt; cast: Ramon Novarro (Tom Winslow), Ralph Graves (Steve Randall), Anita Page (Anita Hastings), Alfred Allen (Admiral), Sumner Getchell (Kewpie), Gardner James (Specs), Edward J. Nugent (Dizzy), Carrol Nye (Tex), Claire McDowell(Mrs. Hastings); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George W. Hill; MGM; 1929)

“Crowd-pleasing meller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The story was written by Lieut. Commander Frank Wead, U. S. N., the first of many of his stories that were used by the movies. The retired naval man, known by the nickname Spig, slipped down his house stairs and broke his neck and then turned himself into a writer. George W. Hill (“The Big House”/”Min and Bill’/”Buttons”)directs this crowd-pleasing meller that tells about naval pilot air exploits and blends in a love story between two friendly rival pilots trying to win over Miss Perfect.

On the eve of their graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, six close friends are overcome with nostalgia for their four years as midshipmen and all make a vow to become airmen and always stick together. But after partying all night, one of the six middies, Dizzy (Edward Nugent), is caught by an officer as he stumbles drunkenly into the barracks after curfew and is expelled from the academy. Then Specs (Gardner James) fails to pass the pilot eyesight test. At the U.S. Naval Aviation Training School in Pensacola, Florida, Kewpie (Sumner Getchell) and Tex (Carrol Nye) fail to pass muster and are given the boot. Finally the six U.S. Naval Academy buddies are reduced to only two who made the grade as airmen: Tommy (Ramon Novarro) and Steve (Ralph Graves).

The climax has Steve undertake a flight from San Diego to Honolulu and is rescued by his buddy Tommy.

Romance comes into the picture when both Tommy and Steve fall madly in love with the beautiful and classy Anita Hastings (Anita Page), and use any means to win her heart.

The authentic looking plane stunts and test pilot sequences make the film a winner, as the tepid romance story flags.

The Navy fully co-operated in the making of the film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”