Flying High


1h 20m 1931
Flying High

Brief Synopsis

A hare-brained inventor invents a new flying machine but can't figure out how to land it.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
George White's Flying High, Happy Landing
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Nov 14, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Flying High , book by George B. DeSylva, lyrics by Lew Brown, music by Ray Henderson and John McGowan (New York, 3 Mar 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Pansy Botts, a small town girl who moved to the big city to become a mother, is a waitress in a diner. She believes that "a girl can't go through life with a tray on her arm," so she places an ad in the Pilot's Gazette for a husband. At a nearby airfield, Rusty Krouse, the inventor of a flying machine called the aerocopter, is displaying his invention for the upcoming Tenth Annual Air Show, when Sport Wardell takes an interest in the copter. Rusty, in financial straits and dogged by his creditors, turns to Sport for help in finding a wealthy investor to bail him out. Soon, an interested Mr. Smith avails himself to the two, and Sport offers to make him president of the company. Smith, however, is temporarily low on cash and is unable to cover Sport's check for Rusty's engine. It is then that Sport meets Smith's lovely daughter Eileen, who teaches at an aviation school. Sport cautions Rusty that if he cannot cover his check, he will surely go to jail. Sport then convinces his partner that he must marry the desperate Pansy and use her $500 marriage reward to keep himself out of jail. Rusty grudgingly agrees to the scheme, and Sport tells Pansy the good news. Pansy is overjoyed at the prospect of finally landing a husband, especially after Sport shows her Clark Gable's photograph and tells her that the pictured gentleman is to be her groom. Unable to contain her excitement, Pansy rushes to Sport's office to meet her new husband. The love-starved Pansy, upon learning that Rusty is a mechanic, instantly falls in love with him and chases him around the office. Frightened by her aggressiveness, Rusty takes refuge in Doctor Brown's office, where he is subjected to an impromptu medical examination. When he emerges from the office, Pansy promises him that if he marries her that night she will never ask him to marry her again. Meanwhile, Sport plans to elope with his new sweetheart Eileen, but he is soon thwarted by the arrest of her father, who is in trouble for selling stocks without a license. Sport is arrested too when Mr. Smith tells the police that he was not aware of Sport's unscrupulous business practices and was duped by the man. Sport relies on Rusty to come through with the bail money and sees an aviation contest prize as his only ticket out of jail. Rusty, who has never flown his aerocopter and is afraid of flying, decides that he would rather marry Pansy and use her $500 to spring his friend. On their wedding night, Rusty tries to distance himself from his new wife and ends up sleeping in the bathtub to avoid her. The next morning, the day of the aviation contest, Pansy, determined to make him love her, locks Rusty in the room, but he wrestles her for the key and finally escapes. She follows him to the air show, where she insists on flying with him and jumps into the flying contraption as it makes a clumsy takeoff. Once airborne, Rusty informs Pansy that the part necessary to make the plane descend has been ejected onto the tip of the wing. Pansy climbs onto the wing to retrieve the part, but parachutes to safety when she learns that the aerocopter cannot stop its ascent. Rusty, meanwhile, rises into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, where he decides to release the aerocopter's fuel to force a landing. Rusty finally descends, passes Pansy on her way down and lands safely at the airfield, where he is awarded first prize for reaching the height of 53,000 feet.

Photo Collections

Flying High - Bert Lahr Publicity Stills
Here are a few photos taken of Bert Lahr to help publicize MGM's Flying High (1931). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Film Details

Also Known As
George White's Flying High, Happy Landing
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Nov 14, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Flying High , book by George B. DeSylva, lyrics by Lew Brown, music by Ray Henderson and John McGowan (New York, 3 Mar 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Flying High -


Bert Lahr attained immortality in his role as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (1939), for which he adapted his slaphappy burlesque persona, with its rubber faced expressions and bashful delivery of gag lines. In 1927 Lahr graduated from burlesque to musical comedies on Broadway, playing to packed houses. When the talkies came in, MGM brought producer George White's stage hit Flying High (1931) to the screen, giving Lahr his first film role. Goofy airplane mechanic Lahr is Rusty Krouse, the inventor of a fanciful flying machine called an aero-copter, which he pronounces as 'aero-copper.' Promoting the craft is Sport (Pat O'Brien), who gets in trouble with the law when his girlfriend's father (Guy Kibbee) sells aero-copter stock without a license. Faithful pal Rusty has a dilemma: should he obtain Sport's bail money by entering his invention in a flying contest, or by marrying Pansy Botts (Charlotte Greenwood), a man-hungry waitress willing to buy a husband? The six-foot tall vaudeville and Broadway star Greenwood plays well against Bert Lahr's emotionally effusive, lovable coward. Her specialty was high-kick dancing, as showcased in the 1943 film musical The Gang's All Here. Their ridiculous courtship is a series of bawdy burlesque routines. The sexually aggressive old maid ("So! He wants to play!") must lock the utterly sexless clown into their hotel room on their wedding night, and he ends up sleeping in the bathtub. They save the day by breaking an altitude record in the aero-copter. Flying High's primitive musical numbers feature some of choreographer Busby Berkeley's earliest film work. Scantily clad 'aviation school co-eds' are filmed from above as they move in symmetrical patterns, spinning airplane propellers over their heads. A big star in her day, Charlotte Greenwood is now remembered for her spirited Aunt Eller in the film adaptation of Oklahoma! (1955). Bert Lahr's fame as the Cowardly Lion insured his popularity as a TV variety show guest in his later years. In 1968 producer Norman Lear cast the beloved comedian in his feature comedy The Night they Raided Minsky's. The plan was for Lahr to perform a classic burlesque routine, but he passed away unexpectedly before his part could be completed.

By Glenn Erickson
Flying High -

Flying High -

Bert Lahr attained immortality in his role as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (1939), for which he adapted his slaphappy burlesque persona, with its rubber faced expressions and bashful delivery of gag lines. In 1927 Lahr graduated from burlesque to musical comedies on Broadway, playing to packed houses. When the talkies came in, MGM brought producer George White's stage hit Flying High (1931) to the screen, giving Lahr his first film role. Goofy airplane mechanic Lahr is Rusty Krouse, the inventor of a fanciful flying machine called an aero-copter, which he pronounces as 'aero-copper.' Promoting the craft is Sport (Pat O'Brien), who gets in trouble with the law when his girlfriend's father (Guy Kibbee) sells aero-copter stock without a license. Faithful pal Rusty has a dilemma: should he obtain Sport's bail money by entering his invention in a flying contest, or by marrying Pansy Botts (Charlotte Greenwood), a man-hungry waitress willing to buy a husband? The six-foot tall vaudeville and Broadway star Greenwood plays well against Bert Lahr's emotionally effusive, lovable coward. Her specialty was high-kick dancing, as showcased in the 1943 film musical The Gang's All Here. Their ridiculous courtship is a series of bawdy burlesque routines. The sexually aggressive old maid ("So! He wants to play!") must lock the utterly sexless clown into their hotel room on their wedding night, and he ends up sleeping in the bathtub. They save the day by breaking an altitude record in the aero-copter. Flying High's primitive musical numbers feature some of choreographer Busby Berkeley's earliest film work. Scantily clad 'aviation school co-eds' are filmed from above as they move in symmetrical patterns, spinning airplane propellers over their heads. A big star in her day, Charlotte Greenwood is now remembered for her spirited Aunt Eller in the film adaptation of Oklahoma! (1955). Bert Lahr's fame as the Cowardly Lion insured his popularity as a TV variety show guest in his later years. In 1968 producer Norman Lear cast the beloved comedian in his feature comedy The Night they Raided Minsky's. The plan was for Lahr to perform a classic burlesque routine, but he passed away unexpectedly before his part could be completed. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The title card in the onscreen credits reads: "George White's Flying High." Hollywood Reporter pre-production news items note that John Gilbert was originally set to star in the film, and that Martin Broones was set to adapt and supervise the production. Hollywood Reporter pre-release news items list actors Tom McGuire, Tommy Conlon and Harry Watson in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to the Variety review, forty women and sixteen men comprised the chorus and danced in the film's two dance numbers. Although a Hollywood Reporter pre-production news item noted that six or eight songs were being prepared for the picture, only three songs were featured, and of those three, only one was taken from the original musical comedy. The Variety review notes the following information about the production: George White, who produced the Broadway hit Flying High, received a credit in this picture as a result of his contract with M-G-M; Bert Lahr made his film debut in this picture, reprising his role from the Broadway stage production; and the unusual sound effect used in the scene where the aerocopter descends was also used in the M-G-M film Trader Horn (see below). According to censorship material in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in January 1931, the MPAA insisted that M-G-M remove from the script an examination scene in which Rusty is shown pouring liquor into a test tube. In a letter dated January 11, 1931, a Hays Office representative stated that in addition to the examination scene, there were "other extremely offensive vulgarities in Flying High which are causing us heap plenty of trouble." One week prior to the release of the film, Lamar Trotti, a Hays Office staffer, stated in a telegram: "...picture is [the] funniest [I] ever saw in my life and while a little rough in spots deserves the millions it will make..." Trotti went on to say, however, that although the examination scene got "tremendous laughs" at a preview screening, it was, in his opinion, in violation of the Code. That same week, the Hays Office tried once again to pressure M-G-M to remove the scene from the film, but the studio held fast and claimed that it had "paid $100,000 for the rights to the play just for that particular scene" and would fight to retain it. However, following the release of the film, and after a legal fiasco, in which an M-G-M's Portland, Oregon manager filed an unauthorized injunction against the Portland censors for rejecting the film there, the studio decided to remove the troublesome aspects of the scene from all prints of the picture. Flying High was released in Great Britain as Happy Landing. Bert Lahr reprised his role as "Rusty Krouse" in the Musical Comedy Time television production of the story, which aired on the NBC television network on March 19, 1951. The television production was directed by Bill Corrigan and starred Dorothy Claire and Mary May.