Women in the Wind
Cast & Crew
Eddie Foy Jr.
It is imperative that aviatrix Janet Steele win the Burbank to Cleveland women's air derby so that she can pay for a vital operation for her brother Bill, a former racing pilot who was crippled in an air crash. At stake is a $15,000 grand prize, money Janet desperately needs, because her banker, Mr. Palmer, refuses to loan her any more money. Janet calls on her old friend, flyer Kit Campbell, who is also entered in the race, to introduce her to Ace Boreman, who has just smashed the cross-country flight mark. Certain that Ace's airplane can beat any other, Janet does everything in her power to convince him that she is a capable flyer, including feigning ignorance about flying and then stealing his airplane to show off her flying skills. Though Ace is initially angered over the stunt, Janet manages to win him over with her natural charm, and once they become friends, Janet flies Ace out to her farm and introduces him to her brother. Ace immediately recognizes the famous aviator, and after Janet pressures Ace to agree to let her fly his airplane, Ace tells her that he would have gladly done her that favor without being shamed into it. Complications arise, however, when Ace's estranged wife Frieda appears and announces that their Mexican divorce has been declared illegal, therefore making her part owner of the airplane, which she intends to fly in the derby. Not wanting to disappoint Janet, Ace convinces his friend, Denny Corson, who was recently celebrated for having flown his airplane across the Atlantic backwards and owes Ace a big favor, to lend Janet his plane. Ace decides not to tell Janet how he helped her, and as preparations for the race begin, Janet is convinced that Ace has turned his back on her. The flyers take their places for the start of the race, but before it begins, the jealous Frieda agrees to be a party to the sabotaging of Janet's plane. The race gets underway, and the two women are pitted against each other, flying neck and neck all the way. After refueling in Wichita, Janet's sabotaged fuel tank loses gas and she is forced to land on a farm. Fortunately, a kindly farmer gives her gas and she is able to continue. As they approach the Cleveland air field, Frieda notices that Janet has lost her landing gear and, having a change of heart, sacrifices her own chance of winning by signaling to Janet and helping her avoid a crash landing. With Frieda's assistance, Janet lands her plane safely and wins the race. When Janet learns that Ace was on her side all along, and when Frieda presents him with a telegram informing him that lawyers have determined that his Mexican divorce has been upheld, Janet realizes she has won more than just a race, she has won Ace.
Eddie Foy Jr.
Charles Anthony Hughes
Carlyle Moore Jr.
Leo F. Forbstein
Jack L. Warner
Carl Jules Weyl
Women in the Wind
The once high-flying star had become frustrated with the undemanding roles Warner Brothers gave her as the decade wore on. With Francis now considered box-office poison, Warners tried to settle her contract but Francis refused, and as a result the studio tried to force her to quit by having her feed lines for other actors' screen tests and the like, even going so far as to deny her requests for lunch guests to come onto the lot. Eventually, the studio simply assigned her to ordinary B pictures. The last of these was Women in the Wind.
Finishing the film and leaving Warner Brothers was a melancholy experience for Francis, who said, "This is the first picture I've finished out here that I haven't had a party for the cast or crew afterward. But this time is different. I knew I'd start crying and so would some of the others. I didn't want to say good-bye that way. I want to remember all these people as friends with whom I used to kid - with whom I had swell times. I don't want to remember them - or have them remember me - with long faces and red eyes. I want to saunter off the lot and out of their lives as casually as though the picture weren't finished and we'd be meeting again in the morning."
During production, Francis gave one of her most famous interviews, telling Photoplay, "I can't wait to be forgotten." She added, "I don't say I'll never make another picture because if I should happen to be in Hollywood and some producer offered me a good part I'd jump at it. But as far as another contract or making a career of pictures any more is concerned, I'm through!"
Indeed, she never got another studio contract, though she did make several more movies. He next job was a good supporting role in RKO's In Name Only (1939), starring Cary Grant and Carole Lombard. Lombard, in fact, lobbied RKO intensely to hire Francis. Afterward, Francis mostly headlined B films (including three for Monogram) or played supporting roles in A films (for various studios) until she retired in 1946.
Women in the Wind also provided an early role for Eve Arden, here playing the showy part of flier Kit Campbell. She later recalled in her autobiography: "I had a very dramatic scene in the plane, struggling with the controls, oil spurting in my face, and then the plane crashed. Finally, I was carried on a stretcher past Kay Francis and urged her to 'go on and win one for me.'
"It was one of the few premieres I was 'requested' to attend and, to my horror, after the oil-in-the-face scene, I saw them cut to a plane in a completely vertical dive, flames shooting from every angle, ending in a crash to forecast the atom bomb. A little fanciful work by the special-effects man who had not watched the rest of the scene! As they carried me on a litter across the screen, virtually untouched and every hair in place, the audience howled!"
The character of Denny Corson (Eddie Foy, Jr.) was loosely inspired by Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan, who in 1938 famously flew from New York to Ireland instead of to California. Corrigan himself starred in an RKO film about his flight entitled The Flying Irishman (1939), which ironically opened just one week before Women in the Wind.
The New York Times compared this picture somewhat unfavorably to Tail Spin (1939), Twentieth Century-Fox's own women's air-racing drama starring Alice Faye which had opened less than three months earlier. "Everything happens according to formula," said the Times critic, adding teasingly, "Although Francis Walton wrote the book, we suspect a few changes: he never would have sanctioned stunting over an airport, even by so charming a flier as Miss Francis."
Producer: Bryan Foy
Director: John Farrow
Screenplay: Lee Katz, Albert DeMond; Francis Walton (novel); George Bricker (contributing writer uncredited), Lawrence Kimble (contributor to treatment uncredited)
Cinematography: Sid Hickox
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl
Music: Leo F. Forbstein
Film Editing: Thomas Pratt
Cast: Kay Francis (Janet Steele), William Gargan (Ace Boreman), Victor Jory (Dr. Tom 'Doc' Wilson), Maxie Rosenbloom ('Stuffy' McInnes), Eddie Foy, Jr. (Denny Corson), Sheila Bromley (Frieda Boreman), Eve Arden (Kit Campbell), Charles Anthony Hughes (Bill Steele), Frankie Burke (Johnnie), Spencer Charters (Henry Dickens), Vera Lewis (Henry Dickens' wife).
by Jeremy Arnold
Eve Arden, Three Phases of Eve: An Autobiography
Lynn Kear and John Rossman, Kay Francis: A Passionate Life and Career
Women in the Wind
According to the Variety review, this was Kay Francis' last picture under her Warner Bros. contract. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts list actor Harvey Stephens in the cast, his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Many contemporary reviews mention the fact that Eddie Foy's character, "Denny Corson," was inspired by famous aviator Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan. For more information on Corrigan, for The Flying Irishman. A Hollywood Reporter pre-release news item notes that Warner Bros. sent a film crew to Cleveland, OH, to film shots of an air derby for the picture.