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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

A 20th Fox Flying Machine:


Women Pilots Compete in Tail Spin (1939)

The 30's aviatrix craze lures three from differing background to a "Powder Puff" race for men and marbles prize. 20th Fox trio-cast Alice Faye, Constance Bennett, and Nancy Kelly against process plates to simulate flight as dramatized by Frank Wead, whose yarn of the air this was (were there any he didn't write?). Clich├ęs arrive to reassure those who think all Hollywood ran to such predictable pattern, Tail Spin not outstanding of its kind, but a way of aerial life it does evoke, there indeed being a fad among then-women to risk all and plunge skyward, flying for sport, profit, or to break records only a week or day old. Flight was a more democratic notion then, plane-crazed youth building own crates like Andy Hardy did jalopies. Lindbergh had much to answer for, it seems. Speaking of heights, Faye was on ascent, Bennett falling, with Nancy Kelly in career rise after the hit of Jesse James. Ground-bound Charles Farrell makes with a wrench and overalls, but virtually no dialogue, his a steep plunge from lead man height of but few years earlier. One of Tail Spin's femme trio must crack up, but which? Finding out needs 84 minutes, spent here with TCM, whose print via Fox license looked very nice.

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