Cast & Crew
When pilot Mike Dandridge's plane engine fails, he makes a daring crash landing that infuriates Mr. Childreth, the plane's owner. Ignoring Childreth's wrath, Mike heads to the flight school run by his former Air Force buddy, Al Reynolds, and there is introduced to Mike's girl friend, pilot Maggie Colby. Maggie, fearing that Mike's daredevilry will influence Al, receives Mike coolly, but Al insists that he join them for dinner. There, Maggie notes Al's attraction to Mike's idea of starting a plane ferrying service to fly clients' newly acquired planes from one site to another, and asks Mike in private to leave before he threatens her hopes for a stable relationship with Al. Although Mike agrees, Al is already smitten with the idea, and within days the three attend a Naval airfield sale and convince a gullible oil man to allow them to fly his new plane back to Texas. Within months, business is booming, and they hire office manager Collie Minor and pilots Phil Donahoe and Willie Ridgely. Maggie and Mike fly two planes to Japan, and there she is impressed by his mastery of the language. After dinner, they pause to enjoy the moonlight and wisteria and he cannot resist taking her into his arms. Maggie responds in anger, declaring that she has known many charming rakes and does not plan to be a notch on his belt. They retire to their rooms, but soon meet on the balcony and fall into each other's arms. In the morning, Maggie acts as if nothing has happened, and Mike is forced to wait until their plances are in the air to radio his love to Maggie. Once again, she explodes in irritation at his presumption and arrogance, but the moment they return to America, they are married, with Al serving as Mike's best man. Mike and Maggie enjoy a protracted honeymoon traveling all over the world, but after four months, Al telegrams that he has rejoined the Air Force and left Collie running the office. Maggie insists that they return to America, where Mike takes over the business. One day, after noting that Mike has hired lovely young pilot Nikki Taylor, Maggie surprises Mike by renting a large house. Although he at first expresses distaste for the trappings of middle-class life, when he realizes that Maggie is pregnant, he is thrilled. Months later, Collie helps Maggie prepare the nursery, while Mike takes trip after trip for the thriving business. In the spring, as Maggie goes into labor, Mike is in Tokyo being propositioned by Nikki, but he jets back to America to see newborn daughter Julia. He immediately announces that the family will spend Christmas in Paris, but Maggie denounces the plan to fly with an infant as irresponsible. Eight months later, in December, Mike goes to France with Nikki, and cables Maggie that he has engine trouble and will not make it home for Christmas. Al visits unexpectedly, and although Maggie is thrilled to see him, she cannot hide her disappointment about Mike, who she knows is having an affair. Mike returns a few days later, and when Al confronts him about his neglect of his family, the two friends fight, waking up the baby. Mike tries to change Julia's diaper, but Maggie returns and angrily takes over. After Al leaves, Mike admits to his affair, but when Maggie asks him to quit flying, he insists he cannot change and that it is she who has turned into an "old maid." The next day, to prove her point about the need for stability, Maggie announces that she will fly one of the new shipments to England in an attempt to be more "fun." Ignoring Mike's assertion that Julia needs her, Maggie flies off. At home, tough-talking Nurse "Sarge" Kennedy will not allow Mike near Julia. He cables Maggie to come home, and when Collie phones in the middle of the night with Maggie's negative reply, Mike's frantic phone calls to London wake Sarge, who then quits in disgust. With no one to watch Julia, Mike takes her with him to London to meet Maggie's plane. Phil serves as his co-pilot, and during the flight Mike grows more adept at caring for Julia, blossoming into a proud father. When they reach London, a dense fog makes the landing dangerous, and Mike barely manages to touch down safely. There, he learns that Maggie's plane is approaching with a broken radio. Via her intermittent signal, they realize that she is low on fuel and cannot see the runway. Although the control officers try to help her land, she misses the tarmac. Terrified, Mike grabs the microphone and instructs his wife to bail out of the plane. She bravely agrees, but when it is time to jump, the hatch jams, and she is trapped. Mike watches the plane crash in a fiery ball and drags himself onto the field, devastated. Moments later, however, Maggie appears in the fog, having escaped at the last moment. He tells her joyously that he brought Julia, at which she immediately chastises him for flying with the baby. They argue heatedly until a passing motorcycle roars through the fog, jolting them into silence, after which they embrace in tears of laughter and relief.
Alan Hale Jr.
Dee J. Thompson
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
Corson J. Jowett
Edmund H. North
Richard H. Riedel
The working titles of this film were Lion in the Sky and A Game Called Love. The opening credits begin with the following written foreword: "Universal-International Films wishes it to be known that the airline portrayed in the film is a completely fictitious company and that it must not be confused with the world-famed British Independent Air Transport operator, Skyways Limited of London."
In October 1956, Daily Variety reported that producer William Alland was considering Clark Gable to play "Mike Dandridge," and that the story was based on the life of technical advisor Jack Ford (not to be confused with director John Ford).
A February 28, 1957 Los Angeles Times item stated that Lana Turner was supposed to star in the 1958 Paramount film Maracaibo (see below), but weather conditions at that film's Venezuela location caused a delay in its schedule, allowing Turner to make The Lady Takes a Flyer instead. That article noted that both Alland and director Jack Arnold were former pilots. According to a May 1957 "Rambling Reporter" item in Hollywood Reporter, Vicky Naftel, the eight-month-old daughter of assistant director David Silver, played "Julia Dandridge," and Silver's wife, Pat McMahon, played a nun in the picture. Although Hollywood Reporter news items add Bing Russell, Sheri Kuni, Carl Sklover, Noel Drayton and Alex Finlayson to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. A March 1957 Los Angeles Times article stated that Evelyn Ankers was cast in a lead role, but she does not appear in the finished film. According to the same item, some scenes were shot on location in Phoenix, AZ.
Soon after the release of The Lady Takes a Flyer, Turner's lover, gangster Johnny Stompanato, was stabbed to death by her daughter, Cheryl Crane. For more information on the incident, please refer to the record for Another Time, Another Place (above).
Released in United States Spring March 1958
Released in United States Spring March 1958