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The Last Flight

(1931 b 76')

En: 6 Ed: 5)


Adapted from a novel by John Monk Saunders, four pilots from the world war turn to drinking in Paris and find an eccentric woman to accompany them.

A plane is shot down in flames but crash lands. Shep (David Manners) rescues pilot Cary (Richard Barthelmess), whose hands are burned. The war ends, and they are released by a doctor who says they are spent. Cary and Shep go to Paris and are joined by fellow veterans Bill (John Mack Brown) and Francis (Elliott Nugent); in a bar they meet Nikki (Helen Chandler). They drink, and the former football star Bill tackles a horse in the street. The reporter Frink (Walter Byron) fails to get Nikki to leave them. The five men take Nikki home, where she lets Bill scrub her back. Cary leaves the others in her sitting room.

The next day the four flyers try to discourage Frink. Cary goes out, and Nikki goes with him. He tells her that Shep drinks because of his tic he got in the war. At a cemetery Nikki asks Cary about Abelard and Heloise. Nikki and Cary exchange heart-shaped stones, and she says she wants to help him. When Nikki says at least she found names for her turtles, Cary drops his stone. Shep finds out what she said and laughs, and Cary says he is going away from Nikki. Cary plans to go to Portugal, and the others decide to go too. Francis is left with her turtles, but he gives them to a porter. They board the train with Cary. Nikki goes to bed and declines help in getting undressed. She screams about Frink, and Cary tells him to get out. When Frink refuses, Cary knocks him down. Frink apologizes.

In Lisbon they drink and go to a bull fight. Bill jumps into the ring, and the bull gores him. Cary, Nikki, and Shep visit Bill before he goes to the hospital. At a shooting gallery Cary, Shep, and Nikki are having fun, but Francis shoots with precision. Cary objects to Frink pointing a gun at Nikki. Frink is threatening to shoot Cary when Francis shoots Frink and runs off. In a car Nikki sees that Shep is bleeding. Shep recalls the plane crash and dies. On a train Cary shows Nikki his letter to Shep's mother. Cary says that Shep gave his life to the war. Cary says that comradeship was all they had left, but now that is gone. Nikki and Cary comfort each other.

This drama reflects how the war caused some veterans to feel lost afterward.

Copyright © 2005 by Sanderson Beck

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