Review: ‘Air Mail’

Picture is a fund of interesting atmosphere about the air mail service. Radio exchanges are coming in and going out all the time, couched in technical language such as 'Visibility zero, ceiling zero. Caution to all planes.' It's interesting enough, but in essence the producer has dramatized the air mail service first and slipped in a human story as a second thought.

Picture is a fund of interesting atmosphere about the air mail service. Radio exchanges are coming in and going out all the time, couched in technical language such as ‘Visibility zero, ceiling zero. Caution to all planes.’ It’s interesting enough, but in essence the producer has dramatized the air mail service first and slipped in a human story as a second thought.

Duke Talbot (Pat O’Brien) is a great flyer and the bravest of the brave, in the air or on the ground. But he’s a vainglorious show-off for one thing and a double-crossing lover. His disreputable affair with the wife of one of his service mates earns him the enmity of Mike Miller (Ralph Bellamy), in charge of the Desert Station post in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. When the betrayed husband is killed during a flight through a violent storm, Duke declines to take his mail on to the next stage, in order to elope with the wife, now free. Instead he allows Mike to take the trip, although Mike has eye trouble that makes the journey especially hazardous.

The stunt stuff is breathtaking. There are long sequences of Duke surveying the terrain from a plane, vast stretches of jagged mountains involving hair-raising stunt flying, apparently within scant feet of peaks and rugged cliffs.

Slim Summerville turns in a capable performance in a comedy relief role while O’Brien and Bellamy give strong, simple handling to the main roles. Gloria Stuart is a pale heroine in a pale part. Lilian Bond does the more spirited playing in an unsympathetic role.

Air Mail

Production

Universal. Director John Ford; Producer Carl Laemmle Jr; Writer Dale Van Every, Frank W. Wead; Camera Karl Freund

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1932. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Pat O'Brien Ralph Bellamy Russell Hopton Slim Summerville Gloria Stuart Lilian Bond
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