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Director Howard Hawks makes his talkie debut with this antiwar classic, an action-packed WWI adventure powerfully told with "a characteristically Hawksian emphasis on professionalism, self-respect and loyalty" (Time Out Film Guide). Tormented over his sending eager young recruits to their deaths, Major Brand (Neil Hamilton) of the 59th British Squadron is heavily criticized by his ace pilots, Dick Courtney (Richard Barthelmess) and Douglas Scott (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). But when the major is promoted and Courtney assumes command, he finds himself in the same situation as his predecessor when he dispatches Scott's inexperienced brother on an ill-fated mission, a sacrifice of war for which he must soon make amends. Based on a story by John Monk Saunders (Wings), The Dawn Patrol won the 1930/31 (4th) Academy Award® for Writing (Original Story), and its dazzling aerial footage was reused by Warner Bros. for the 1938 remake starring Errol Flynn.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Long overdue on DVD July 6 2013
By Barbara J. Wertz - Published on
Format: DVD
Warner Bros. remade THE DAWN PATROL in 1938 and that version, directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Errol Flynn, David Niven and Basil Rathbone has become a great classic. However, this earlier version is a worthy film too, and it supplied most of the air combat footage that was reused in the 1938 version.

The 1930 version was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Neil Hamilton. That such a film could be stashed in the Warner closet when the newer version was released can only be explained by one consideration: money. They didn't want the older film competing with the newer one with the newer stars. When Warner Home Video released the 1938 version on DVD I was really surprised that they didn't include the 1930 version. Now, at last, we have the 1930 version too on the Warner Archive label. I could wish for a full restoration, but I'm thankful to have it at all.

The films are so similar that they are often confused. The dialogue is almost line for line the same and, as I've already pointed out, much of the combat and location footage from the 1930 version was reused in the 1938 version. But they do have differences too, which makes a comparison interesting.

The story concerns young officers of the Royal Flying Corps (the RAF of the day) flying fragile planes into combat, frequently with very little training. The original title of the story was THE FLIGHT COMMANDER and it is very much about the emotional toll taken on the young commander (Hamilton) stuck in a desk job sending other young men into combat when he'd much rather be going with them. As the story progresses promotion or death causes the command to be passed from one character to another and each has to deal with the impossible situation in his own way.

The cast of the 1938 version had appropriate British accents (a bit Aussie in Flynn's case) which helps to establish that this is a British squadron. However, the 1930 cast, though decidedly American, is mostly younger. (Actually, Barthelmess was 35, Flynn was 28, but Barthelmess looks younger.) They give a strong image of the very young men, barely more than boys, who were caught up in the horror of an unexpectedly modern war.
Classic film for fans of classics Feb. 3 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is the first Dawn Patrol and hence a classic Given the time and date of production the flying sequences are very good. Unfortunately the aircraft have only a vague resemblance to Neiuport 28's which would be all wrong for the RAF. The acting is rather stilted and the squadron commander is definitely little johnny one note. That one note being petulant and angry.
Early actioner April 22 2014
By LostinGermany - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This early actioner, telling the story of pilots in WW1, is well directed by Hawks (as always), but the script is too talky. The technique
wasn't ready at that time, to solve the problems in the air. Interesting anyway.
watch this movie and you'll hear the authentic sounds of those Gnome rotary engines Oct. 2 2013
By gentsonly - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There's more talking than flying in this great old film, but the brief air combat episodes are worth waiting for... wonderful scenes of pilots in their Nieuport 28s gunning and blipping the engines prior to takeoff at dawn, banking and zooming against DVIIs, and yawing and side slipping in to land. WWI and classic aero buffs will like this movie.
Great WW 1 buddy epic Aug. 25 2013
By Joseph Buchanan - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While acknowledging the often stiff and stuffy elements of the story and action, I found myself deeply involved with the characters. Barthelmess is a little stiff, but Douglas Fairbanks Jr is great as a fearless ace in this WW I film. The flimsy airplanes that visibly wobble in the wind are the real thing, as are the great dogfights. One major drawback is the image quality-very soft and muddy.

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