The Dawn Patrol Review

Image for The Dawn Patrol

In France in 1915, the 59th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps led by Major Brand are complaining about their missions, which have enormous casualty rates. Chief among the complainants is Captain Courtney, but he finds leadership is harder than it seems when his is promoted to command the squadron.


In this remake, Edmund Goulding improves on Howard Hawks' 1930 original, largely by lifting its impressive aerial sequences and adding Errol Flynn. The film focuses on the numbered days of the 59th squadron stationed in France in 1915. Flynn heads up the flying boys, who spend their evenings drinking and singing in the bar, with the grim reality that the next morning's flight may well be their last, with a suitably strong and commanding performance. David Niven offers suitably dashing support, and Basil Rathbone is fine as the commander bearing the weight of sending these men to their almost certain death.

The film mixes heroism and the horror or war successfully, surprisingly so for its day.