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"Wings in the Dark"

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"Wings in the Dark"

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Character's Name: Ken Gordon
Release Date:  February 1, 1935
Director: James Flood
Studio:  Paramount Pictures
Running Time: 68 minutes

Cast: Myrna Loy (Sheila Mason), Cary Grant (Ken Gordon), Roscoe Karns (Nick Williams), Hobart Cavanaugh (Mac), Dean Jagger (Tops Harmon), Bert Hanlon (Yipp Morgan), James Burtis (Joy BUrns), Russell Hopton (Jake Brashear), Arnold Korff (Doctor)

- by ZoŽ Shaw
Ken is a flier trying to perfect instruments for safe flying in the dark or fog. As his devices near completion, he is blinded in a gas explosion. Sheila, a writer/flier is in love with him, but the feeling is not mutual. Ken goes to live in the country with his mechanic and dog for company. He tries to be a writer but never knows the cheques he cashes are from Sheila. Sheila attempts a dangerous flight from Moscow to New York. When she gets into trouble, Ken realizes he loves her. He and his dog go up in the fog, and lead her to safety by means of the instruments he perfected.

- by Debbie Dunlap
Ken Gordon is a pilot who has invented a blind flying apparatus for airplanes. Moments before he's to make the final tests on the instruments and thereby prove to the world the benefit of this new invention, Ken is blinded in an accident.

Barnstormer, Sheila Mason, has worshiped Ken from afar. She has finally met him, face to face, when his accident occurs.

Ken doesn't want to be pitied or to be a burden on anyone, so he retires to a country home to eke out a dark, lonely existence. Sheila, however, won't allow him to wallow in seclusion and self-pity. She convinces Ken that he is not useless even though sightless, and persuades Ken to move back to the land of the living and continue his work. Ken begins diligently documenting his progress on the blind flying apparatus and submits these documents for publication to what I assume are aeronautical journals. His articles are rejected, but Sheila hides this from him. She takes on numerous dangerous barnstorming jobs, handing the paycheck over to Ken in order to continue the ruse that Ken is being paid for his articles.

All is going well, until Ken's plane is repossessed. Ken discovers that Sheila has been lying to protect him. Ken is bitter and sends her packing.

Hoping to cancel the debt on Ken's plane (and perhaps win Ken back?), Sheila accepts a dangerous job to fly from Moscow to New York, nonstop, that pays $25,000. She's doing fine until she reaches New York and a dense, blinding fog settles over the whole east coast.

With just 20 minutes worth of fuel left (and only 5 minutes left to the movie), Ken hears a radio announcement about her flight, realizes he loves her, confiscates his repossessed plane, flies "blind" into the air, finds her, tells her he loves her, contemplates suicide because he'll never see again (and therefore be a "real" man in Sheila's eyes), then guides her safely back to the airfield using his blind flying equipment. Whew!! What an unbelievable ending! Literally!

Oh, and lest I forget to mention the last tender scene...as the photographers are snapping their pictures, Ken says, "I see flashes of light." Sheila says, "Of course, they ARE flashes of light. OH!" The end.

VARIETY Film Review - February 5, 1935
- by "Kauf"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Unconvincing and improbably story here, but handled so expertly and deftly that it may nose through to moderate grosses.  It's a flying yarn with a new angle - so new, in fact, it pretty ridic.  But the title, the aerial photography and the acting of Myrna Loy and Cary Grant are assets.  

Six writers involved in the story hatching - evidently all of them let their imaginations go rampant.  Myrna Loy is a trick pilot, circusing around to earn a living.  Cary Grant is a serious aviator with ideas of world records.  He wants to fly to Paris, but at the last minute an accident happens and he goes blind.  That would seem to crimp his career, but Miss Loy encourages him to keep on trying.  He dictates air stories and articles and sends them to magazines, with the girl pigeon-holing the yarns and paying off while he doesn't know.  Also, he's working on a new invention for blind flying.  He just about perfects it when his plane is taken away from him for lack of payments.  Then he finds out all.  So he cuts her off and sends her away, and she, to forget, makes a solo flight from Moscow to New York to establish a new world's record.

After clearing all of Russia, Europe and the Atlantic ocean she gets lost over Boston, a fog sets in and she can't find her way to the airport.  She's lost her bearings and it looks like all is lost.  So the blind man crashes Roosevelt field, breaks down the door of a hangar, gets a plane, goes up and finds her and guides her down to safe landing.  

Curiously enough the finish, which is hardest to take from a credulity standpoint, is the best part of the picture.  It's so exciting and so well handled by Flood that it almost convinces.  Mob scenes, air stuff and all the photography are way above ordinary.

Besides two stellar performances there is a good supporting cast, outstanding being the work of Roscoe Karns as Miss Loy's manager, and Hobart Cavanaugh as Grant's mechanic.  Kauf.      

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - February 2, 1935
- by Andre Sennwald
- submitted by Barry Martin
"Wings in the Dark" is a pleasantly performed and skillfully filmed melodrama of the peacetime airways which is hampered by an addle-pated narrative. High altitudes have a tendency to make scenarists just a trifle giddy, with the result that the big climax of the Paramount's new photoplay has the appearance of having been composed during a tail spin. If you are anxious to view some of the most striking aerial photography the screen has offered in months, you will have to endure the episode in which Myrna Loy, the daring aviatrix, reaches Roosevelt Field at the conclusion of her great flight from Moscow.

Battling head winds and impenetrable fog, Miss Loy loses her bearings over the stormy waters of Long Island just about the time that her gasoline is running low. Thereupon Cary Grant, the blind aviator, steals a plane and goes aloft to find her. It is his desperate plan, after convoying Miss Loy to safety, to fly off into the great unknown so as not to be a burden to those who love him. Perhaps it is betraying the Paramount Theatre to reveal that Miss Loy saves her lover for the altar by smashing her plane into his as they are about to land, thereupon shocking the nervous system of the stricken airman so severely that he regains his sight.

The foregoing, as well as the rather tedious plot machinery which leads up to it, proves to be disastrous to the work, which is managed with such technical finesse that it ought to have been among the better pictures. Even at that, "Wings in the Dark" succeeds in being both informative and absorbing when it is showing how the blinded airman invents an instrument board which can be operated by the sightless. Leo Kieran, one of THE TIMES's aviation specialists, informs me that both the stunt flying and the aerial photography in the film are excellent. It is his suspicion, though, that the ingenious blind-flying system invented by the picture's hero is as improbable as the great climax.

Miss Loy continues to be the most refreshing and delightfully real of the cinema's young women, and she is entirely likable as the lady stunt flyer who helps the afflicted airman to recapture his faith in himself. Mr. Grant's pleasant performance as the aviator is also a help. Then there are Roscoe Karnes as a flashy press agent and Hobart Cavanaugh, amusingly decked out in a Scotch burr, as the hero's devoted assistant Ö Eddie Paul and his orchestra are on the Paramount stage show. The program also contains a dragout item in the Popeye cartoon series.  

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