Well, it’s almost the end of 2020, and I’ve got one last review to get through. This time, we’re here for the 1933 movie The Eagle And The Hawk, starring Fredric March, Cary Grant, Carole Lombard and Jack Oakie! Of course, we’ve got our theatrical short to get through first, and then it’s on to the movie!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Isle Of Caprice (1969)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 14 seconds)
A marooned aardvark tries to get to another island where the ants are, but is stopped by a hungry shark. This one is actually quite a bit of fun. The basic story is certainly nothing new, but it allows for a bit of variety, with the aardvark being both predator and prey. Admittedly, with the ants barely shown, it doesn’t really feel as much like an “Ant And The Aardvark” cartoon so much as an “aardvark and the shark” (or something like that). Still, it’s fun (even with the shark constantly chasing the aardvark up the tree with the same reused animation every time), and I enjoy seeing it every now and then!
And Now For The Main Feature…
During World War I, a group of American pilots, which includes Jerry Young (Fredric March) and his buddy Mike Richards (Jack Oakie) are sent overseas. However, another member of the group, Henry Crocker (Cary Grant), is left behind at Jerry’s recommendation since Henry is not a good pilot. Upon their arrival in France, Jerry and Mike are almost immediately sent up to fly some reconnaissance missions. Enthusiastic at the prospect, they both go with their observers (tailgunners who also take photographs of the territory). Jerry makes it back alright, but his observer doesn’t survive, which really sobers him up. Over the next two months, Jerry loses four more observers, which really bothers him. In spite of that, he is considered a hero, and somebody his leaders encourage the new recruits to look up to. His new observer turns out to be Henry, who is still somewhat bitter towards Jerry. Despite their personal issues, they still manage to be successful together (although Henry earns the ire of the other pilots when he shoots down some men in parachutes, which is against their code). Jerry starts to show signs of cracking up, so Henry (his roommate) goes to Major Dunham (Sir Guy Standing) with this information, and Jerry is given a ten day leave. In London, he finds himself still struggling with his hero status, especially when a little kid enthusiastically asks him what it’s like. However, he is comforted by a Beautiful Lady (Carole Lombard), who listens and sympathizes with him. Upon his return, he finds his buddy Mike and Henry returning from a mission, but Mike expires shortly after landing. Furious with Henry because he had pushed to try and shoot down a German pilot, Jerry requests another observer. The question remains, though, whether Jerry can still get past his own demons to be the hero he is needed to be, or will he crack up again?
As you can tell from my plot description, this really is Fredric March’s movie. And that’s not a bad thing! He gives a great performance here as a man who comes into the war almost thinking of it as a game. He goes into his first mission with great enthusiasm, and is still feeling that way when he gets back. Then reality sets in when he realizes his observer is dead. From then on, we watch as his conscience slowly but surely eats away at him, while his kill count rises (and with it, his status as a “hero” to everyone around him). He makes it easy to sympathize with his disillusionment.
And that brings us around to Carole Lombard. One would think, with her billing, that she is in this movie a lot. She really isn’t, only appearing for about ten minutes or so. One would think that almost makes her role unimportant, but I think her character (nameless though they may be) means a lot more. Apart from her, nobody else really stops to notice how Fredric March’s Jerry is feeling. Throughout the movie, everyone else just shrugs off Jerry’s worries and feelings, but not her. At the party where she meets him, she sees how everyone else is making him feel, and, when he leaves (and she comes with him), she actively listens to him, and tries to help him. And it works, if only temporarily, as he seems to be happy again when he returns from leave (although that happiness is short-lived when he loses his friend Mike and everyone else continues to ignore his growing doubts). This role was still early in Carole Lombard’s career, before she established herself as a great comedienne in screwball comedies, but she still makes her presence known in just the few minutes she is there.
And speaking of actors doing roles that seem out-of-line with what they did later, we also have Cary Grant here. We have him in a role that is quite different and against type, as he is not his usual, suave self. His character has a bit of an edge to him, and a sense of “kill or be killed” in terms of how he treats the enemy. Unlike Jerry, he wants to kill (which is what ends up getting Jack Oakie’s Mike shot). And one wonders how much he cares for Jerry, especially with the efforts he goes to in the end to still make Jerry look like a hero (even though he knew Jerry didn’t like the idea). It’s a rude awakening compared to what we know Cary Grant did later. It’s more of a supporting role than we’re used to with him, but he still gives a good performance.
If you can’t tell already, I did enjoy this movie. That being said, I do feel that one of the few weak spots in the movie (for me) is Jack Oakie. So far, with the handful of films that I’ve seen him in, I just don’t seem to care for him or his style of comedy. At least here, he is more of a supporting character as opposed to the lead, but I just still don’t care for him. But the rest of the movie is still quite good. The flying sequences are well done (even with some rear-screen projection here and there), and the movie certainly shows that not everyone is cut out for war. All in all, this was a well-done drama, and I would definitely recommend it!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. The movie seems to mainly have an HD scan, but not a full-fledged restoration or remaster. The transfer does look pretty solid, with a few scratches and other minor issues, but none that should ruin the film. It certainly worked quite well for me, and is the best way to see this movie.
With this being my last review of the year, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year (although I hope, of course, that you’ll check on my blog tomorrow for my 2020: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched)!
And if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” post to sign up!
Film Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes
My Rating: 8/10
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