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Crack-Up

Crack-Up(1937)

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Crying Boy

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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At the christening of the "Wild Goose," a new airplane designed for trans-Atlantic travel, an eccentric known as Colonel Gimby, who the workmen think brings good luck, interrupts the celebration tooting his little bugle. After the ceremony, the eccentric returns to his hidden offices, where, as Baron Rudolph Maximilian Tagger, the chief of a foreign spy ring, he executes an agent who has betrayed his trust. The baron and his organization plan to steal secret plans for the new "D.O.X." bomber plane, which practically every country in the world wants, with the assistance of pilot Ace Martin, who is to fly the Wild Goose on its maiden flight to Berlin. When Ace tells his young protégé, Joe Randall, who idolizes him, that the employer of Joe's fiancée, Ruth Franklin, stole his plans for the D.O.X., Joe offers to get them back through Ruth. After the baron tells operative #77, who has just arrived in the country, that he does not trust Ace, because Ace is doing the job only for the money, 77 tells Ace that he is secretly working for a third country and offers him three times the agreed upon amount if Ace will deliver the plans to him and then fly him to his homeland. Ace agrees, and after Joe steals the plans, Ace arranges to meet 77 on a deserted road to deliver the plans before they leave that night at midnight. When 77 tells the baron of his planned meeting with Ace, the baron insists upon going along. While the baron remains in his car, 77 pays Ace and warns him that the "Chief" has them covered. Thinking that he has been double-crossed, Ace shoots 77 and escapes with the plans and the money. At the airplane hanger, Ace meets Joe and the owner of the Wild Goose, John P. Fleming, who, at the last minute, has decided to accompany Ace to Berlin to look for his wife who has left him for another man. They discover that a gate is open and that the night watchman is missing. The next day, as they are in the air 1,500 miles from New York, they find the baron, impersonating the loony "Colonel Gimpy," in their plane as a stowaway. He says that he killed the night watchman, but none of the others believe him. Meanwhile, officials of the War Department convince Ruth that Joe has been unwittingly drawn into a spy operation, and she asks for a chance to speak to Joe over the radio to allow him to clear his name. During a storm, the gas cap of the plane comes loose. Ace goes out on the wing to fix it, and while he is there, Joe hears Ruth on the radio reveal that Ace is a spy. In anger, Joe tries to sway the plane to make Ace fall off. Fleming says that it is wrong to kill Ace in cold-blood, and as he and the baron struggle with Joe, Ace gets back in. Ace hits Joe, and during their struggle, an instrument breaks. Although gasoline spurts into Ace's face, he is still able to land the damaged plane in the water. After floating for awhile, they run out of food and water. When Joe is about to kill himself, the baron hits him and knocks him out. As water fills the cabin of the plane and it looks like they all will die, the men reveal their reasons for being there: the baron reveals his identity; Fleming says he realizes now that it was futile to try to pursue his wife; and Ace, blinded from the gasoline, sanguinely asserts that he has lived for fun and will now die laughing. When Joe sees the distant light of a steamer, they fire a flare. The stranded men realize that their plane will sink before the steamer gets to them and that only one life jacket is functional. The baron then pulls a gun and says that he must take the jacket and the plans because of his duty to his country. Ace struggles with him and shoots him, and then gives the plans to Joe and orders him to get into the jacket. Fleming agrees, and after Joe leaves, the wounded baron confesses a strong liking for Ace. While Joe is rescued, the three doomed men smoke a last cigarette as their plane sinks.