Cast & Crew
As a teenager in England in the early 1920's, Amy Johnson angers her schoolmistress when she exerts her individuality and rebels against the school's outmoded conventions, which leads her schoolmates to resist wearing their mandated straw hats. Upon graduating from college, Amy attends business school, and after working at a series of unrewarding jobs, becomes restless. Feeling confined by the walls of her office, Amy longs for the freedom of flight and decides to take flying lessons. After becoming the first British woman to be awarded a flying certificate, Amy decides to expand the frontiers of aviation by flying to Australia. Amy's mission is met with opposition, but after Lord Wakefield lends his support, her father agrees to buy her a used airplane. In 1930, five years after her college graduation, Amy wings her way toward Australia, breaking the world's record to India, the first leg of the journey. The world follows Amy's progress, breathlessly awaiting news after her plane disappears. Nineteen days later, Amy finally reaches Australia, winning headlines and generating publicity for women's rights and the prowess of England. Hailed as a hero, Amy begins a campaign to rally the young to a career in aviation. In Australia, Amy meets famed aviator Jim Mollison, who is envious of her courage and achievements. Upon returning to England, Amy is greeted by the adulation of millions and is deluged with requests for public appearances. Challenged by Amy's accomplishment, Jim decides to fly from Australia to England, but gets drunk before takeoff and crashes into a telephone pole on the airstrip. Refusing to admit failure, Jim tries again, and breaks all world records on his flight to England. Upon landing, Jim learns that Amy has just broken the world's record to Tokyo. While sailing home from Japan, Amy receives a telegram from Jim, asking her to meet him in Cape Town. Amy meets Jim when he lands in Cape Town, and Jim, exhausted from the flight, collapses on the airstrip. Upon regaining consciousness, Jim makes a dinner date with Amy, but when he is delayed by several rounds of celebratory toasts, Amy dines without him and then sails home. Upon arriving at her parents' house, Amy receives a phone call from Jim, who asks her to dine with him that evening. After flying from Paris to London, Jim proposes over dinner and Amy impulsively accepts. Soon after they are married, Jim informs Amy that he plans to fly to America, a feat that has never been done. In his plane that he has christened "Heart's Content," Jim lands in America days later. Back in England, Amy eagerly awaits word from her husband and finally tracks him to a nightclub, drunk and surrounded by admiring women. Later, a hurt and rejected Amy welcomes Jim home and soon discovers his many female admirers. Angered by her husband's infidelity, Amy decides to fly to Cape Town and break his record. Upon reaching Cape Town, Amy phones Jim and, after informing him that she has broken his record, slams down the receiver. Once home, Amy, discontented with their separate lives, proposes that she and Jim fly together to America. Over the Eastern United States, their plane runs dangerously low on fuel and Amy begs Jim to land in Boston. When Jim foolishly insists upon flying to New York, their plane runs out of gas, forcing them to crash land in Connecticut. Sensing problems in his daughter's marriage, Amy's father pronounces that she and Jim are too individualistic to share their lives. His words prove prophetic, because after Amy and Jim recover from injuries sustained in the crash, Amy, tiring of her husband's indolence and preoccupation with the social scene, decides to divorce him and fly solo again. In 1939, with Britain's entry into World War II, Amy tries to enlist in the Air Force, but is rejected, as is Jim. While driving a supply truck one day, Amy is invited by an old friend to join the women's branch of the Air Transport Auxiliary, a division of the military that transports planes from base to base. Later, Jim joins the male branch of the ATA, and two years later, they meet on a military post just as Amy is about to leave on a mission. Amy takes off into dense fog and clouds, and when the weather worsens, she is unable to see to land and her plane runs out of gas. Parachuting into the Thames estuary from her doomed craft, Amy drowns, but her deeds live on, inspiring a legion of women flyers.
J. C. Cook
This film was released in England as They Flew Alone. Although the British version ran 104 minutes, the film was was cut to 96 minutes for American distribution. The film's opening credits include the following written acknowledgment: "Gratefully acknowledging the assistance and facilities accorded by Miss Amy Johnson's Family, Mr. James Mollison, Miss Pauline Gower M.B.E., The Air Ministry, The Ministry of Aircraft Production, The Air Transport Auxiliary, and Lord Wakefield's Represenatives." The picture closes with the following written dedication: "And to all the Amy Johnsons of today, who have fought and won the battle of the straw hat-who have driven through centuries of convention-who have abandoned the slogan Safety First in the flight for freedom from fear-from persecution-we dedicate the following film." MacDonald Parke's surname is incorrectly spelled "Park" in the screen credits.
Born in 1903, Amy Johnson was a pioneering British aviatrix, who broke the world's record on her flights to India, Cape Town, South Africa and Tokyo, Japan. She married pilot James Mollison in 1932. They were divorced in 1938. On January 1941, she drowned while flying her aircraft across the Thames Estuary. According to modern sources, producer-director Herbert Wilcox returned from the U.S. to England to make this film using RKO's frozen funds.