It’s a competently done saga [from the 1931 Prix Femina novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery] of commercial flying which, while essentially a ‘man’s picture’, will likewise hold the femmes. The woman’s angle comes from the mental stress on behalf of their men folks, who are braving the aerial elements, and the heart tug is the necessity of speed to hasten serum across a continent to a stricken city suffering an epidemic of infantile paralysis.
The locale revolves about the Trans-Andean European Mail service, which spans South America and punchily gets over the great danger the flyers experience in crossing the Andes. As a story it’s all rather simple but the veracity of detail and the other elements entailed [aerial photography by Elmer Dyer and Charles Marshall] make it an outstanding production.
Clark Gable is almost wholly superfluous as a flyer. Robert Montgomery lends a little more color. The two women (Helen Hayes and Myrna Loy), apart from their mental travail for their husbands, likewise deliver at a minimum. John Barrymore this time is the more forceful of the freres, being importantly cast as the ruthless managing director of the air service. Lionel Barrymore is altogether a vague characterization.