Keep 'Em Flying


1h 26m 1941

Film Details

Also Known As
Abbott and Costello in the Air, Flying Cadets, Up in the Air
Release Date
Nov 28, 1941
Premiere Information
Detriot, MI opening: 19 Nov 1941; New York opening: 27 Nov 1941
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Medford, Oregon, United States; Ontario, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,733ft

Synopsis

Carnival stunt pilot Jinx Roberts upsets his employer, Gonigle, because his stunt shows are so long and popular that the sideshows aren't making enough money. Jinx's two pals, Blackie Benson and Heathcliff, also run afoul of Gonigle, and all three are soon fired. Jinx has already gotten a new job, however, as he is about to begin training at the CAL-AERO flight school, in order to become a flyer in the U.S. Army Air Corps. The three celebrate Jinx's good fortune by going to The Manila nightclub, where the flyer immediately falls for singer Linda Joyce. Jinx learns that Linda has joined the USO and will be stationed at the flight school, as her brother Jim is an air cadet there. Blackie and Heathcliff follow Jinx to CAL-AERO and beg for a chance to serve their country. The two are hired to work as members of the ground crew. Jinx's showboating style doesn't suit the Army, and his training is further complicated when Craig Morrison, an old enemy and a rival for Linda's affections, is made his flight instructor. As the training progresses, Jim, who is now Jinx's roommate, becomes the only student unable to solo, as he is haunted by the death of his famous aviator father. Blackie and Heathcliff's lives also become complicated, when they fall for twin sisters, camp hostesses Barbara and Gloria Phelps. Neither man knows the women are twins until they both meet each other's date at a carnival. Back at the base, Craig gives his performance reports to Major Barstow, citing both Jinx and Jim as problems. Craig tells the major that Jinx was fired as a commercial pilot for ignoring orders, and has always falsely blamed Craig, his co-pilot, for turning him in. Against Craig's advice, Barstow grounds Jinx, and the pilot once again mistakenly blames his old friend for his plight. Back in their room, both Jim and Jinx decide to quit CAL-AERO. They leave in Jinx's plane, but the pilot, seeing a chance to help Jim overcome his phobia, parachutes out, forcing Jim to solo. Unfortunately, the plane's throttle sticks and Jim panics. Over the radio, Craig orders Jim to parachute out, but Jinx knocks Craig unconscious and helps Jim crash land the plane, telling him that "any landing you can walk away from is a good one." Afterward, Jinx is falsely accused of abandoning the plane because of the defective throttle, and is told that he will be arrested if Jim has been seriously hurt. Meanwhile, Blackie has been teaching Heathcliff how to fly in an old, engineless plane. During their final lesson, however, they discover that the engine has been replaced with a working model, which leads to another crash landing. Graduation day arrives at CAL-AERO, and Jinx, Blackie and Heathcliff prepare to leave the flight school in disgrace. During a parachute demonstration, however, Craig's parachute becomes caught in his plane's fuselage. Jinx immediately takes off in his plane and saves Craig by lowering him onto his plane. Back at the base, Jinx is congratulated by all, including Linda, and is reinstated into the Army Air Corps by Barstow. Meanwhile, Blackie and Heathcliff's chase plane develops engine trouble, and they are forced to parachute as well. Heathcliff lands on Blackie's parachute, tearing it, and the two are forced to land using only Blackie's parachute. Back on the ground, Blackie promises never to go flying again, but the wind from another plane inflates his parachute, and he is whisked into the air.

Film Details

Also Known As
Abbott and Costello in the Air, Flying Cadets, Up in the Air
Release Date
Nov 28, 1941
Premiere Information
Detriot, MI opening: 19 Nov 1941; New York opening: 27 Nov 1941
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Medford, Oregon, United States; Ontario, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,733ft

Award Nominations

Best Song

1943

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Abbott and Costello in the Air, Up in the Air and Flying Cadets. The opening credits note that the flying school sequences were photographed at the CAL-AERO Academy in Ontario, CA. The film opens with the following prologue: "To the United States Army Air Corps-Its Officers and Its Enlisted Men-and to those unsung heroes-the ground crew who `Keep 'Em Flying'-this picture is dedicated." This was the fourth Universal film starring actors Bud Abbott and Lou Costello released in 1941. Though Ride 'Em, Cowboy was filmed before Keep 'Em Flying, Universal executives decided to withhold that film and release Keep 'Em Flying first, in order to capitalize on the service comedy element which had proved so successful with the previously released Buck Privates and In the Navy (see entries above). According to an April 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item, the Andrews Sisters were originally cast in this film, but they did not appear in the released film. Hollywood Reporter also reported in August 1941 that Universal had retained writer Warren Wilson to write "gags" for Abbott and Costello, but it has not been determined if any of his work appears in the released film. Arthur Lubin, who had previously directed Abbott and Costello in four films, was not originally assigned to handle this film, having worked steadily on seven different projects at Universal for one solid year. When no other director could be agreed upon, however, Lubin's planned vacation was postponed so that he could direct the picture. Production was delayed for one week, however, in order to give Abbott and Costello a short vacation. Another cause of this brief delay was Universal's difficulty in finding a suitable airport location at which to shoot large segments of the film, as the U.S. government had taken control of all nearby locations for the war effort. On September 9, 1941, Hollywood Reporter reported that Universal had arranged with the U.S. government to rent the CAL-AERO Academy in Ontario, CA for location filming, with Major Robert L. Scott, Jr. and Lt. David L. Jones of the Academy acting as technical advisors. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, the main unit shot at this location from 15-25 September 1941. For the picture's final sequence, director of photography Joseph Valentine used three cameras simultaneously to shoot over 150 extras, as well as 500 graduates of CAL-AERO. While the first unit returned to the Universal lot, cameraman John Boyle remained at CAL-AERO for two more weeks, shooting additional second unit photography. A Hollywood Reporter news item notes that chief stunt pilot Paul Mantz and two other stunt flyers went to Medford, OR in early October 1941 to shoot footage for the parachute jumping sequence under the second unit direction of Ralph Cedar.
       Hollywood Reporter production charts include Don Douglas and Peter Sullivan in the cast, though their participation in the released film has not been confirmed. The film's official premiere was held at the Fox Theater in Detroit, MI on November 19, 1941. According to Hollywood Reporter, the day was declared "Keep 'Em Flying Day," with parades and government officials in attendance, and over 5,000 people paid $5.50 to see the film on its opening night at the Fox. Universal executives later told Hollywood Reporter that they predicted that the film would generate $1,500,000 in box office receipts in its first four months of release alone, almost doubling the business of Buck Privates. At the conclusion of the year, the Motion Picture Herald poll of exhibitors ranked Abbott and Costello as third among the money-making stars of 1941. Modern sources report that comedian Milton Berle joked in one of his monologues about the duo's many releases in 1941: "Things are slow in Hollywood. Abbott and Costello haven't made a picture all day."