It is unfortunate that most viewers are only familiar with the dreadful remake (1938) of this film starring Errol Flynn rather than the original directed by Howard Hawks. (I was lucky enough to see a 35mm nitrate print held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.) The other two famous World War I flying epics, Wings and Hell's Angels, both feature superb aerial fighting sequences, but Wings is a slow moving silent film which only gets into the action after an hour has gone by, and Hell's Angels is burdened with an absurdly bad scenario. Hawks had the genius to give equal importance to the drama behind the lines, counterpointing it with impressive dogfights in the air. Dick Courtney (Richard Barthelmess) is an ace who is taken out of combat, made commander of his squadron, and given the responsibility of having to decide who will fly each dawn. Ultimately, duty requires him to send the inexperienced younger brother of his best friend, Douglas Scott (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), into battle. After the death of the latter destroys the friendship between the two men, Courtney goes on a suicide mission, sacrificing himself to destroy a chemical plant. Hawks's first sound film, The Dawn Patrol is a worthy harbinger of the masterpieces that were to follow.
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The review of this Movie prepared by Dave C