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Canal Zone

Canal Zone(1942)

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Ginger Bar, a former banana shipping station on the outskirts of the Panama Canal Zone, has recently been converted into a relay station for Army bombers being flown from the United States to Africa over the dangerous Matto Grosse mountains. The station is presided over by Commander Merrill, an ex-service flier who trains civilian airmen to handle bombers, transforming them into pilots of "flying fortresses." "Hardtack" Hamilton, a tough, earnest aviator, functions as the base's training officer. "Tack" is in love with Merrill's daughter Susan, but Susan refuses to compete with flying for his affections. One day, a new group of pilot prospects arrive at the base. Among them are Kincaid, from Alabama; Madigan, an ex- marine; Hughes, a former player with the Brooklyn Dodgers; and Baldwin, a former insurance agent who trained with the Civil Aeronautics Authority. While the rookies look on, Tack takes up the training plane and after climbing to its ceiling, executes a power dive. Suddenly, a private plane appears from out of the clouds and performs a series of stunts, nearly missing Tack's diving plane. The reckless flier is Harley Ames, a society playboy, who has enlisted for the excitement of flying. Conceited and reckless, Ames immediately incurs the animosity of Hamilton and all the other fliers, except for Kincaid, who regards the arrogant Ames as a hero. On his first test flight, Ames grandstands for Susan and the fliers, thus infuriating Tack, who then assigns him to be a mechanic. After Susan persuades Tack to pass Ames, thus allowing him to fly, Ames celebrates by inviting Susan to a party that night. When Susan learns that attending a party will violate instructions to turn in early so as to be alert for combat practice the next day, she cancels the date. Ames goes by himself and gets drunk, and the next morning, the hungover flier crashes his plane into Kincaid's, killing the Alabamian. Full of remorse, Ames goes on a drinking binge, but is brought to his senses by Susan and Tack, who realize that he really is a talented flier. One day, a contingent of airmen start on a mission to deliver a shipment of bombers to Africa. Tack leads the squadron, but when the carburetor controls of his craft freeze, he is forced to crash into the jungle. The squadron then returns to Ginger Bar, but Ames, knowing that Susan is in love with Tack, takes off in his own plane against orders, locates Tack in the jungle and brings him safely home to Susan's waiting arms. When the squadron takes off again, Ames leaves for Africa, declaring that he intends to find a little excitement there.