Review: ‘The Lost Squadron’

Squadron glorifies the cinematic stunt flyer. [From the Liberty magazine story] by Dick Grace, the most illustrious of the Hollywood aerial daredevils, it is not without authority, even though the dramatics are a bit strained.

Squadron glorifies the cinematic stunt flyer. [From the Liberty magazine story] by Dick Grace, the most illustrious of the Hollywood aerial daredevils, it is not without authority, even though the dramatics are a bit strained.

The ‘behind the scenes’ of an aerial film production is the best appeal Squadron has. It’s a story-within-a-story. Although the basic premise might be regarded as trite and familiar, the detail of the skullduggery of a jealous husband-director, along with his fanatical zeal in injecting realism into the aerial crash stuff, is 100% new for the screen.

Erich von Stroheim plays the director (alias Arnold von Furst in the picture) to the hilt, i.e. the role of a domineering, militaristic Prussian film director who is a martinet on location, callous to all else but the box-office effect of his celluloid production.

Action takes Richard Dix, Joel McCrea, Robert Armstrong and Hugh Herbert from an aviation corps right after the war to Hollywood, where Armstrong has preceded them and won some standing as an aerial stuntist.

With the quartet reunited as Hollywoodian stunt flyers (Dick Grace, Art Gobel, Leo Nomis and Frank Clark get the billing for the actual aerial stunting), Stroheim as the jealous director motivates the action toward a realistic crack-up by putting acid on the control wires of the ship which Dix has screen antagonist, was supposed to have piloted.

Mary Astor is unhappily cast as an ambitious actress who first throws over Dix while he’s on the other side for a sinecure under a masculine protector, and who later marries von Furst to further her career on the screen.

The Lost Squadron

Production

RKO. Director George Archainbaud; Screenplay Wallace Smith, Herman J. Mankiewicz, Robert S. Presnell; Camera Leo Tover, Edward Cronjager; Editor William Hamilton; Music [uncredited]; Art Director Max Ree

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1932. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Richard Dix Mary Astor Erich von Stroheim Dorothy Jordan Joel McCrea Robert Armstrong
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