Stationed near the German border in France, Courtney (Errol Flynn) and Scott (David Niven) are two aviators. Outnumbered by the Germans and low on resources, the circumstances have truly taken their tole on the squadron's commander, Major Brand (Rathbone). Brand would rather fly the missions himself rather than have young, inexperienced men shot down on their first flight. However, soon Brand is called away from the squadron and appoints Courtney as his successor. What sort of impact will the conflict have on the happy-go-lucky Courtney and will he survive the war?
"The Dawn Patrol" is a brilliant character study, especially for its lead characters. It is interesting to note that the film has a very small cast, unusual for war epics, but this helps develop the characters extremely. All three leads are very real, humane characters and the limited cast helps establish the closeness and develop a real kinship amongst them. Most notably is Flynn who turns in one of his finest performances. Although Flynn is brilliant in his swashbuckling, sword-toting types of roles, his down-to-Earth performance here is excellent. It was not very often that Flynn was able to play a "normal" human being and this film shows that Errol Flynn had acting chops which could match the best of them.
|From Left to Right: David Niven, Errol Flynn|
and Basil Rathbone
"The Dawn Patrol" is a movie which is likely to linger in the memory long after you've seen it. It's one of the finest examples of war drama I've ever come across and certainly gives the aforementioned "All Quiet on the Western Front" a run for its money as the finest World War I film out there. The same year as "The Dawn Patrol's" release, Rathbone was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in another 1938 film, "If I were King." Rathbone ultimately lost to Walter Brennan, but I feel as though if Rathbone had been nominated for "The Dawn Patrol," Mr. Brennan may not have been so lucky. "The Dawn Patrol" is a fine film which comes highly recommended from me.
Coming Next Time: "Captain Blood" - Enough said