Cast & Crew
In 1917, Wilkie and Mitchell are inept lifeguards attempting to avoid the war. When a man is drowning, they allow Hogan, who is a tough sergeant in the Army Air Corps, to rescue him because they cannot swim, and they then take credit for the rescue. At a Red Cross benefit boxing match, Wilkie and Mitchell encounter Hogan, who is billed as "One Punch" Hogan, and when Hogan sees Wilkie, he starts a fight, but Wilkie knocks him out. As a crowd gathers, Wilkie and Mitchell sneak out, swearing they will never join the Army. Later, Wilkie and Mitchell are indeed in the Army, shoveling manure. Disgusted by their situation, they decide to quit and go to South America, and hop onto a manure truck that is leaving the base. They stowaway on a ship, unaware it is a troop ship carrying Army Air Corps pilots to France, and ask the first person who passes by them for food. Unfortunately, that person is Hogan, who turns them over to the commanding officer. Wilkie and Mitchell are sent to the American aviation field in France after claiming they wanted to join a flying unit. There, they adroitly avoid flying the planes during training, especially after Mitchell's first disastrous solo attempt. While on guard duty, Wilkie competes with Hogan for the attentions of Fifi, a French performer. Later, Wilkie visits Fifi and her friends at a nightclub, and when Hogan comes after him, they fight. The police arrive, and Hogan and Wilkie make a quick exit, then hide in American Mary Way's car. Startled by their appearance, she crashes the car, and unharmed, they escort her to an inn for the evening. In the morning, Wilkie has breakfast with Mary and cons Hogan into fixing her car. Military police come looking for the two men and arrest them, as well as Mary, whom they think is a spy. Wilkie, Hogan and Mary escape, fly a plane off base, land in enemy territory and are captured. Along the way, however, they release two bombs to drop excess weight and unwittingly bomb a major German munitions depot. The Air Corps colonel sends a squadron to rescue the trio, and the first to arrive is Mitchell, who terrorizes the Germans by his inept maneuvers. After their rescue, the three fly home as heroes, and while relating his story to Mitchell, Wilkie accidentally pulls the lever for the bomb hatch and bombs his own base.
William B. Davidson
Joseph Moncure March
Joseph Moncure March
The working title of the film was Ground Hogs. According to various news items and information in the Jack Mintz Collection at the AFI Library, two separate films were shot, the result of which was Sky Devils. The first production, never released, was directed by Edward Sedgwick in May-June 1931. Sedgwick, however, resigned. Filming resumed in September 1931 with a rewritten story, under Edward Sutherland's direction, and with Charles Stallings as production manager. The Sedgwick-directed story ended with a scene in an Arabian desert. The extent to which the plot was altered elsewhere has not been determined. According to a Film Daily news item, Lola Lane and Sidney Toler, who appeared in the Sedgwick-directed production, were committed to other films by August 1931, and Lane was replaced with Ann Dvorak, while Toler was replaced by William Boyd. It is doubtful that any footage from the Sedgwick-directed production appears in the released film. Cast listed in the Jack Mintz Collection, whose participation in the Sutherland-directed film have not been verified, include George Irving (Colonel); Charles Sullivan, (Ambulance driver); Bud Rae, (Truck driver); Bud Geary, (Pilot for crash); Paul Palmer, (Sentry); Al Orr, (Stretcher bearer); Harry Strang, (Sergeant); Ed Biby, (Major); J. Phillips, (Supply officer); Joe Lane, (Ginsburg); Charles Darwin, Joe Roy, Brad Richardson, Herb Reed, Willard St. Claire, Lew Vitt and Earl Carson. Production credits included in the Jack Mintz Collection for the Sedgwick production include Supervisor, E. B. Derr; Secretary, Dot Gohlman; Assistant Director, Vic Orsatti; Unit Manager, Jack Mintz; Camera, Henry Sharp, Arthur Martinelli, Wallace Chewning; Assistant Camera, Frank Gaudio, Louis de Angelis, Charles Bohny, Maury Gertsman, Tony Ulm; Stills, Newton Hopcraft; Scr clerk, M. Ursem; Dialogue, Royal Hampton; Props, Stanley Dunn, Mike Jeffries, Don Rickets; Grips, Bill Handy, Cal Traweck, Ralph Hoge, Ward Angle; Set dresser, Julia Heron; Constr, V. L. McFadden, Harold Barry; Cutter, Doug Biggs; Make-up, Blagoe Stephanoff; Hairdresser, Lillian Mayer; Wardrobe, Bill Bridgehouse; Wardrobe des, Ellis O'Neill Cox; Electrician, James Potevin, I. Martin, Cecil Bardwell; Mixer, Frank Maher; Stage men, R. H. Quick, Jack Noyes; Location men, Hal Connelly, Erwin Luttermoser, Dr. Damewood; Erpe man, William Snyder. A Film Daily news item indicates that Sandra Ravel was slated to appear in the Sedgwick-directed production. Some scenes for the May-June 1931 production were filmed on location at the Venice Bath House and on the Venice boardwalk. Flying scenes were filmed at March Field, while dock scenes were filmed in San Pedro, and desert scenes were filmed in Yuma, AZ. Some scenes were also filmed at RKO Pathé and M-G-M studios. According to the pressbook, fifty-five stunt pilots were employed, and an airfield was built for the film. According to a modern source, this film includes footage from the 1930 Hughes production Hell's Angels (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.2411).