Ace of Aces


1h 16m 1933
Ace of Aces

Brief Synopsis

After he's branded a coward, a sculptor travels to France to help fight World War I.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bird of Prey
Genre
Drama
War
Release Date
Oct 20, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

After the United States enters World War I, Nancy Adams becomes a Red Cross nurse, while her fiancé, Rex "Rocky" Thorne, pursues his sculpting career. Disappointed by Rocky's refusal to enlist, Nancy mocks his pacifist attitudes and accuses him of cowardice. Rocky, abandoned by Nancy, joins the army and trains as an aviator, determined to prove his bravery. Although he is at first hesitant about firing his machine gun during combat, Rocky "learns" how to kill as soon as he is shot at by his German foe. Filled with the thrill of victory, he vows to become the most successful aviator in the war, completely forgetting his pacifist scruples. In his specially equipped plane, he risks his life to gun down German after German, finally breaking the record for the most kills. While on furlough in Paris, Rocky runs into Nancy, whose own war experiences have soured her naive patriotism. Torn by guilt, Nancy agrees to spend the night with the highly decorated Rocky, while mourning the loss of the "gentle" Rocky she deserted. Soon after, Rocky shoots down an innocent German cadet and suffers a head wound, which lands him in the hosptial. Lying in the bed next to him is the German cadet, whose cries of suffering rack Rocky's conscience. Upon his release, Rocky is asked to give up combat to teach at a training school. Before leaving his squadron, however, Rocky, egged on by his peers, takes off on an unauthorized "last" mission. Surrounded by German planes, he prepares to kill, but as his hand reaches for his machine gun, he has a vision of the German cadet and is unable to fire. In the fight, Rocky is wounded and crashes, but lives to return home and marry Nancy.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bird of Prey
Genre
Drama
War
Release Date
Oct 20, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Ace of Aces


A World War I aviation drama from RKO Pictures, Ace of Aces is based on The Bird of Prey, a story by John Monk Saunders, an author-screenwriter who specialized in aviation and also created the stories for Wings (1927) and The Dawn Patrol (1938).

Ace of Aces stars Richard Dix as a sculptor with pacifist leanings who registers as a conscientious objector as the war breaks out but is then shamed by his socialite sweetheart (Elizabeth Allan) into enlisting in the Air Corps. He is sent to France as a fighter pilot and becomes one of the Corps' most ruthless killing machines, shooting down numerous German planes. To prove his courage, he takes such daredevil risks that even the girlfriend is shocked by his increasingly bloodthirsty attitude.

Ralph Bellamy, radio singer Art Jarrett and William Cagney (James' look-alike brother) are in the supporting cast, which also includes stunt pilot Frank Clark and, in uncredited bits, Betty Furness and Grady Sutton. Aerial scenes, featuring recreations of dogfights, spinouts and fiery crashes, were created by Howard Batt, Frank Clark, Oliver LeBoutillier and Garland Lincoln, among others. "It's the fine photography and crashes that provide the thrills," wrote a reviewer for Variety. Some aerial scenes were taken from Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels (1930).

Dix, who actually saw service during WWI, became a star of silent films with his rugged good looks and calmly authoritative manner. Among his memorable silent roles were the modern hero of The Ten Commandments (1923) and the Indian of The Vanishing American (1925). His best-remembered performance in sound pictures came in Cimarron (1931), which brought him an Oscar® nomination as Best Actor. After that he generally played leads in action films and, in the 1940s, was the star of a movie series in which he played "The Whistler."

Producer: Sam Jaffe
Director: J. Walter Ruben
Screenplay: John Monk Saunders and H.W. Hanemann, from story by Saunders
Cinematography: Henry Cronjager
Original Music: Max Steiner
Editing: George Hively
Principal Cast: Richard Dix (Lt. Rex Thorne), Elizabeth Allan (Nancy Adams), Ralph Bellamy (Major Blake), Theodore Newton (Lt. Foster Kelly), William Cagney (Lt. Meeker).
BW-77m.

by Roger Fristoe
Ace Of Aces

Ace of Aces

A World War I aviation drama from RKO Pictures, Ace of Aces is based on The Bird of Prey, a story by John Monk Saunders, an author-screenwriter who specialized in aviation and also created the stories for Wings (1927) and The Dawn Patrol (1938). Ace of Aces stars Richard Dix as a sculptor with pacifist leanings who registers as a conscientious objector as the war breaks out but is then shamed by his socialite sweetheart (Elizabeth Allan) into enlisting in the Air Corps. He is sent to France as a fighter pilot and becomes one of the Corps' most ruthless killing machines, shooting down numerous German planes. To prove his courage, he takes such daredevil risks that even the girlfriend is shocked by his increasingly bloodthirsty attitude. Ralph Bellamy, radio singer Art Jarrett and William Cagney (James' look-alike brother) are in the supporting cast, which also includes stunt pilot Frank Clark and, in uncredited bits, Betty Furness and Grady Sutton. Aerial scenes, featuring recreations of dogfights, spinouts and fiery crashes, were created by Howard Batt, Frank Clark, Oliver LeBoutillier and Garland Lincoln, among others. "It's the fine photography and crashes that provide the thrills," wrote a reviewer for Variety. Some aerial scenes were taken from Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels (1930). Dix, who actually saw service during WWI, became a star of silent films with his rugged good looks and calmly authoritative manner. Among his memorable silent roles were the modern hero of The Ten Commandments (1923) and the Indian of The Vanishing American (1925). His best-remembered performance in sound pictures came in Cimarron (1931), which brought him an Oscar® nomination as Best Actor. After that he generally played leads in action films and, in the 1940s, was the star of a movie series in which he played "The Whistler." Producer: Sam Jaffe Director: J. Walter Ruben Screenplay: John Monk Saunders and H.W. Hanemann, from story by Saunders Cinematography: Henry Cronjager Original Music: Max Steiner Editing: George Hively Principal Cast: Richard Dix (Lt. Rex Thorne), Elizabeth Allan (Nancy Adams), Ralph Bellamy (Major Blake), Theodore Newton (Lt. Foster Kelly), William Cagney (Lt. Meeker). BW-77m. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film Bird of Prey, which also was the name of John Monk Saunder's original story. RKO borrowed Elizabeth Allan from M-G-M for this film. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Stuart Erwin was to have appeared in the production. Actor and future producer William Cagney, the brother of James Cagney, made motion picture debut in the film. Arthur "Art" Jarrett was a popular radio singer, and the Stroud Twins (Claude and Clarence) were well-known vaudeville performers. According to modern sources, footage from Howard Hughes's 1930 film Hell's Angels was used in some of the flying sequences. Modern sources include Edward Gargan in the cast.