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The Lost Squadron

(1932 b 79')

En: 5 Ed: 6

An air squadron of four men stay together after the world war to do movie stunts and sacrifice their lives for each other.

On November 11, 1918 pilots are fighting in the air until 11 o'clock when the war ends; then they salute each other. Pilots Gibson (Richard Dix), Red (Joel McCrea), and Woody (Robert Armstrong) and mechanic Fritz (Hugh Herbert) don't want to "bust up" after the war. Red returns to his old business job but does not want to replace a man with a family. Gibson visits Jolette (Mary Astor) but finds her with a man. Unable to find work, Gibson, Red, and Fritz bum a ride on the railroad to Los Angeles, where Woody has been flying stunts for actress Jolette's husband, director von Furst (Erich von Stroheim). They meet Woody's sister "Pest" (Dorothy Jordan) and decide to do stunts.

The dictatorial von Furst is directing the picture and is jealous of his wife's old boyfriend Gibson. The Pest asks Woody not to drink when he is flying. When he does, Gibson takes his place in the war scene. In between shots von Furst berates the actors. In the next scene Gibson's plane goes out of control and crashes in the water; but he survives. Red asks Pest to marry him, and she agrees with a kiss. Gibson tells Red he does not mind out of friendship for him. Jolette asks Gibson not to fly, because von Furst is trying to get him killed for a good action scene. This time Woody is sober and flies for Gibson. Von Furst tampers with the plane by pouring acid on a control wire. Red gets a gun and finds acid in von Furst's pocket, threatening to kill him if anything happens to Woody. Gibson goes up in a plane and tries to signal Woody to come down; but the control wire snaps, and Woody's plane crashes and burns.

Learning about the tampered wire, Gibson calls the police; but Red does not want the police there. Gibson gets the gun away from Red, finds von Furst tied up and has him untied. Gibson tells von Furst to confess; but he tries to escape. In the dark the gun is dropped, and then von Furst is shot dead. Gibson, Red, and Fritz each claim they did it. Gibson intends to fly and drop von Furst's body from the plane. Hearing a siren, they hide the body. The homicide detective questions Gibson, sees the blood on the floor, and asks about von Furst. Pest asks Gibson to protect Red. Gibson and Fritz put the body in the plane, and Gibson flies the plane into ground, causing it to explode. In the final scene two ghost planes are flying.

These four men in facing danger and death developed a deep friendship and loyalty to each other that made it natural for them to sacrifice themselves for one of the others. This is contrasted to the crude power and ambition of von Furst and Jolette, who admitted she became ambitious and weak.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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