Disillusioned World War I flying ace Roger Shumann (Robert Stack) spends his days during the Great Depression making appearances as a barnstorming pilot at rural airshows with his parachutist wife LaVerne (Dorothy Malone) and worshipful son Jack (Christopher Olsen) and mechanic Jiggs (Jack Carson) in tow.
New Orleans reporter Burke Devlin (Rock Hudson) is intrigued by the gypsy-like lifestyle of the former war hero, but is dismayed by his cavalier treatment of his family and soon finds himself attracted to the neglected LaVerne. Meanwhile, Roger barters with wealthy and aging business magnate Matt Ord (Robert Middleton) for a plane in exchange for a few hours with his wife. Tragedy ensues when Jiggs’ anger about his employer’s refusal to face family responsibilities causes him to make a rash and fatal decision. He manages to start Shumann’s aircraft, with some difficulty, but the plane crashes and Shumann is killed. After rejecting and then reconciling with Devlin, LaVerne returns to Iowa with son Jack.
I’ll Take This Sirk-Stack-Malone-Hudson Story
Even though I haven’t seen this movie in quite a while, it’s ironic I would write this review shortly after viewing “Written On The Wind” for the first time recently. “Ironic” because of the main actors star in both films: Robert Stack, Rock Hudson and Dorothy Malone, and both films were directed by Douglas Sirk.
Personally, I thought this film was far more interesting than the more well-known WOTW. This was a better story.
Dorothy Malone, for one, looked a heckuva lot better in this movie. She had some classic beauty and shows it here more than the trampy role in the other film.
I also preferred this film because it had some fascinating and dramatic flying scenes, things I have never seen before on film. Apparently, they had these 1930s air races in which planes few around pylons, almost like a horse race on land. This is the only film I’ve seen that pictured.
Another thing I enjoyed was Hudson’s dramatic story at the end of the movie which, at first, seemed ridiculously melodramatic but was said so well that I found in very compelling, and it tied the whole story together.
I also appreciated Malone doing the right thing at the end, telling off Hudson for coming on to her, since she was a married woman. This is one of the few films – including those in the 1950s – in which adultery is NOT treated mater-of-factly.