July 6, 2008
This is a 1932 vehicle for Richard Arlen, a WW1 pilot who co-starred in “Wings” and a number of other mostly flying oriented pictures, before graduating to Westerns.
Arlen plays Bert “Speed” Condon, the lead pilot in a daredevil stunt plane act that plays the county fair circuit. His reckless attitude in the air causes an accident which kills a fellow pilot. He quits flying and goes on the road. He ends up working as a mechanic for Beech Aircraft.
Charles plays Jim Carmichael, the lead test pilot for Beech, and Arlen’s rival for the pretty secretary at the plant. Charley plays a nice contrast to brooding Condon, breezy and confident, enthusiastically spouting facts about weight bearing loads and engine speeds. He’s Val Kilmer’s Iceman to Tom Cruise’s Maverick.
He can also be a dick. When Condon won’t fly, he says, “Maybe you’re cold, I see ya shakin’.” Condon punches him right on his “lantern jaw.”
He also knows when he’s wrong. He takes part in the mid-air climax, following Condon’s lead as he attempts to save a stowaway kid clinging to Charley’s landing gear. The two pilots communicate with hand gestures and Charley (as we saw in “Screen Snapshots: Famous Fathers and Sons”) performs some mighty fine pantomime work.
Another future B-Western star makes a brief appearance, Randolph Scott playing real-life flying hero, Captain Frank Robertson.