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Aviation Films - T

Tail Spin (Fox 1939, 84m) D: Roy Del Ruth. Constance Bennett = Gerry Lester, Joan Davis = Babe Dugan, Charles Farrell = Bud, Alice Faye = Trixie Lee, Nancy Kelly = Lois Allen, Kane Richmond = Tex Price, Jane Wyman = Alabama. Screenplay: Frank Wead. Technical director: Paul Mantz. Not a profound story, but a tale of women racing pilots does have its charm and some entertaining flying scenes. Maltin dismisses it as "Hackneyed saga of female flyers, with Faye having to scrounge for pennies and face competition from socialite aviatrix Bennett." Location mainly at Cleveland NARs.

AIRCRAFT: Nationals racers galore, some models and clips; reported brief appearance of Crosley C-4 [X9679].

Tailspin Tommy (serial; Universal 1934, 248m) D: Lew Lander (aka Louis Friedlander). Noah Beery Jr = Peter "Skeeter" Milligan, Charles A Browne = Paul Smith, Patricia Farr = Betty Lou Barnes, Walter Miller = Bruce Hoyt, Maurice Murphy = 'Tailspin' Tommy Tompkins, Grant Withers = Milt Howe. Screenplay: Basil Dickey, Vin Moore, Ella O'Neill, George Plympton, based on story by Hal Forrest. Universal's first serial based on a comic strip and is faithful to Forrest's original story of Tommy's start in aviation as a young mechanic. Pilots uncredited, possibly Frank Clarke. 12 episodes.
Tailspin Tommy & Great Air Mystery (serial; Universal 1935, 236m) D: Ray Taylor. Noah Beery Jr = Peter "Skeeter" Milligan, Charles A Browne = Paul Smith, Pat J O'Brien = Milt Howe, Jean Rogers = Betty Lou Barnes, Clark Williams = Tailspin Tommy Tompkins. Screenplay: Ray Cannon, Basil Dickey, Robert Hershon, Ella O'Neill, George Plympton, based on story by Hal Forrest. Follow-up with some cast changes. Aerial coordinator and pilot Frank Clarke in bit part as "Air Ace Clark;" also stunt flying by George DeNormand. 12 episodes. See also Stunt Pilot.
Target For Today (documentary 1944). No data, most likely one of the FMPU productions or from the "Why We Fight" series.
Tarnished Angels (Universal 1957, 91m) D: Douglas Sirk. Jack Carson = Jiggs, Troy Donahue = Frank Burnham, Rock Hudson = Burke Devlin, Dorothy Malone = La Verne Shumann, Robert Middleton = Matt Ord, Robert Stack = Roger Shumann. Screenplay: George Zuckerman from William Faulkner story, "Pylon." In the 1930s, WW2 flying ace Stack is reduced to making appearances on the crash-and-burn circuit of stunt aerobatics. His family is forced to live like gypsies while he pursues his only true love, flying. When newsman Hudson shows up on the scene to do a "whatever happened to" story on him, he is repulsed by the war hero's diminished circumstances, but drawn to his beautiful parachutist wife, Malone.

AIRCRAFT: Culver Dart, DH Gypsy Moth, Vultee A1-A; others.
Task Force (Warner Bros 1949, 116m) D: Delmer Daves. Walter Brennan = Pete Richard, Gary Cooper = Jonathan Scott, Wayne Morris = McKinney, Jane Wyatt = Mary Morgan. Screenplay: Delmer Daves. Aerials by Paul Mantz. Filmed at North Island NAS (San Diego) CA, aboard USS Antietam(CV-36), plus USN combat footage.

AIRCRAFT: Boeing 100 as F8C-2, F4F, TBM.

Trivia: Wayne Morris was the only Hollywood personality to attain the status of "ace," when as a USN fighter pilot he downed seven Japanese aircraft in WW2.
Tender Hour, The (McCormick-First National 1927) D: George Fitzmaurice. Billie Dove = Marcia Kane, Alec B Francis = Francis Chinilly, Montagu Love = Grand Duke Sergei, Ben Lyon = Wally McKenzie. Screenplay: Winifred Dunn. Filmed at Griffith Park, Los Angeles CA.

AIRCRAFT: Curtiss JN-4.
Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta SEE Castle in the Sky
Terror in the Sky SEE Zero Hour.
Test Pilot (MGM 1938, 118m) D: Victor Fleming. Lionel Barrymore = Howard B Drake, Clark Gable = Jim Lane, Myrna Loy = Ann Barton, Spencer Tracy = Gunner Sloan. Screenplay: Vincent Lawrence, from a story by Frank Wead. Aerials by Paul Mantz, Frank Tomick. Filmed at Burbank CA, Chino CA, Cleveland NARs, Lindbergh Field (San Diego), March Field CA, Van Nuys CA. One of MGM's top money-makers in 1938, it earned good reviews and 3 'Oscar' nominations for Best Picture, Story (Wead), and Editing (Tom Held). Despite a predictable plotline, the film was well cast and well acted and the story appealed to both sexes, as well as aviation buffs. It's on Aerofiles' Top Ten list of all-time favorite aviation films.

AIRCRAFT: Boeing YB-17C, Northrop A-17A, Ryan S-T, Seversky SEV-S2 [NR70Y] as "Drake Bullet", several Greve and Thompson racers.

Trivia: Such was the popularity of the film, in a poll of readers conducted by columnist Ed Sullivan, Gable and Loy were nominated the 'King and Queen of Hollywood.' Tracy claimed it was one of his favorites (in spite some personal friction with Gable), as did Loy in her autobiography.
They Flew Alone (Great Britain; RKO 1941, 93m (US) 103m (UK)) D: Herbert Wilcox. Anna Neagle = Amy Johnson-Mollison, Robert Newton = James Mollison. Screenplay: Viscount Castlerosse, Miles Mallison. The story of Amy Johnson, who won the hearts of the British public in the '30s with her record-breaking solo flights around the world—her marriage to fellow aviator Jim Mollison was less noteworthy. Film has the dull quality of a B-picture. Aerial shots are archival footage, plus extravagant and crude use of models and painted backdrops warranted by existing wartime conditions. Tv title: Wings and the Woman.
This Island Earth - A science-fiction movie made in 1955 shows a DC-3 that has been configured by aliens to fly itself. It is a great movie and is one of the first of what we think of as science-fiction today. (— Bob Henson 11/15/07)
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (MGM 1944, 138m) D: Mervyn LeRoy. Don DeFore = Charles McClure, Van Johnson = Ted Lawson, Gordon McDonald = Bob Clever, Robert Mitchum = Bob Gray, Tim Murdoch = Dean Davenport, Phyllis Thaxter = Ellen Lawson, Spencer Tracy = Jimmy Doolittle, Robert Walker = David Thatcher. Screenplay: Dalton Trumbo. Filmed at Eglin AFB FL, Alameda NAS CA, Oakland CA, Sacramento CA. AA Oscars 1945 for Special Effects and Cinematography.


Trivia: Lawson's amputated left leg is briefly visible when he puts the sandal on his right foot.
This Man's Navy (MGM 1945, 100m) D: William Wellman. Wallace Beery = Ned Trumpet, Noah Beery Jr = Joe Hodum, Jan Clayton = Maude Weaver, Tom Drake = Jess Weaver, James Gleason = Jimmy Shannon. Screenplay: Borden Chase. Filmed at Lakehurst NAS NJ, Santa Ana NAS CA, Moffett Field CA.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (Fox 1965, 152m) D: Ken Annakin. James Fox = Richard Mays, Gert Frobe = Col Manfred von Holstein, Benny Hill = Fire Chief Perkins, Sarah Miles = Patricia Rawnsley, Robert Morley = Lord Rawnsley, Red Skelton = Neanderthal flyer, Terry-Thomas = Sir Percy Ware-Armitage, Stuart Whitman = Orvil Newton. Many replica vintage planes, great aerial photography. It's on Aerofiles' Top Ten list of all-time favorite aviation films.

Trivia: (1) Nuclear power cooling towers visible in the background of the train scene, and modern ferries visible in Dover harbor as the planes fly over. (2) Just before the German airplane falls into the sea, it flies almost level in an inverted attitude with its tail higher than its nose, a physical impossibility. (3) A hangar is marked SOPWITH, but that company was not founded until 1912, two years after the date of this story.
Thousand Plane Raid (United Artists 1969, 94m) D: Boris Sagal. J D Cannon = Genl Cotten Palmer, Chistopher George = Col Greg Brandon, Gary Marshall = Wing Cdr Trafton Hardwicke Loraine Stephens = Lt Gabrielle Ames. Screenplay: Donald Sanford, from a story by Robert V Wright. Aerials by Frank Tallman, et al. Filmed at Santa Maria CA.

Three Miles Up (Universal 1927, silent). Ethlyne Clair = Nadine Worthing, William Clifford = Boss Scanlon, Art Goebel = himself, William Malan = John Worthing, Frank Tomick (possibly), Al Wilson = Ace Morgan. Screenplay: Carl Krusada. Aerials by Wilson, Goebel, and Tomick.

AIRCRAFT: Curtiss JN-4D.
Threshold: The Blue Angels Experience (documentary; 1975, 89m) D: Paul Marlow. Narrator: Leslie Nielson. USN F-4 aerobatic team. Also seen in c.30m edited form as Winter Training.
Thrills of the Air (Universal 1927, silent) Al Wilson.
Thunder Birds (Fox 1942, 78m) D: William Wellman. Reginald Denny = Barratt, Preston Foster = Steve Britt, Jack Holt = Col MacDonald, John Sutton = Peter Stackhouse, Gene Tierney = Kay Saunders. Screenplay: Lamar Trotti, from a story by Melville Crossman. Aerials by Paul Mantz. Filmed at Thunderbird AFB AZ, Falcon AFB AZ.

AIRCRAFT: PT-13, BT-13, AT-6.
Thunderbirds (Fox 1952, 98m) D: John Auer. John Drew Barrymore = Tom McCreery, John Derek = Gil Hackett, Gene Evans = Mike Braggart, Mona Freeman = Lt Ellen Henderson. Screenplay: Mary C McCall. Aviator training in WW2.
Thunderbolt (documentary; USAF/Monogram 1945, 44m) D: John Sturges, William Wyler. Narration: James Stewart. Republic P-47 "Jug" and its use in missions over Europe and the Pacific Theatre in WW2; USAAF footage.
Thunderbolts of Millville (documentary; NJPBS, Millville Historical Society 2004, 30m) Informative and entertaining production about the history of and activities at Millville (NJ) AAFB 1941-45 training P-47 fighter pilots, and its relationship with the townspeople. A half-hour well spent, and a lot of historical "Jug" footage.
Thundering Jets (Fox 1958, 73m) D: Helmut Dantine. Audrey Dalton = Susan Blair, Robert Dix = Lt Jimmy Erskine, Dick Foran = LtCol Spelling, Rex Reason = Capt Steve Morley. A flight officer re-evaluates his handling of his men. Cinemascope. Filmed in part at Edwards AFB CA.
Tiger Band (serial, Fox 1920, silent) D: Gilbert Hamilton. William Brunton, T D Crittenden, Helen Holmes, Jack Mower.
Tim Tyler's Luck (serial, Universal 1937) D: Ford Beebe, Wyndham Gittens. Frances Robinson = Lora Lacey, Frankie Thomas = Tim Tyler, Norman Willis = Spider Webb. Screenplay: Gittens, Norman S Hall. 12 episodes in which Tyler goes to Africa in search of his father in gorilla country. He meets up with Laura, who is after Spider Webb, who has framed her brother.
Time Flyer SEE Blue Yonder, The.
Tip On a Dead Jockey (MGM 1957) - Unreviewed here but, while not an aviation movie, reputedly has considerable footage of a Beech 18.
Tjistoje Nebo (USSR "Clear Skies;" 1962, 110m) D: Grigori Chukhraj. Nina Drobysheva, A Aleksandrushkin, Vladimir Anisko, Aleksei Astakhov, Yevgeni Urbansky. Screenplay: Daniil Khrabrovitsky.
Tmavomodrý svet - (Czech Republic "Dark Blue World"; Biograf 2001, 112m). D: Jan Sverák. Tara Fitzgerald = Susan, Krystof Hádek = Karel, Ondrej Vetch = Franti. When Germany invades their country, Czech pilots flee to England and join the RAF. Back home after the war, they are suspected of anti-Communist ideas and sentenced to labor camps. If you like Spitfires, then you will love this film about the Czech pilots who flew with the RAF. It has a love story plot, but with lots of flying. (— Richard Bryant 2/26/01).
Today We Live (MGM 1933, 113m) D: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson. Gary Cooper = Richard, Joan Crawford = Ann, Franchot Tone = Ronnie, Robert Young = Claude. Screenplay: William Faulkner, Edith Fitzgerald. During WW1, a bomber pilot and PT boat captain trade off missions. Flying footage from "Hell's Angels."
Too Hot To Handle (MGM 1938, 103m) D: Jack Conway. Leo Carrillo = Joselito, Walter Connolly = Gabby MacArthur, Clark Gable = Chris Hunter, Myrna Loy = Alma Harding, Walter Pidgeon = Bill Dennis. Screenplay: Lee Hammond, John Lee Mahin. Fast-paced comedy-adventure with Gable a brash newsreel reporter in Shanghai covering the Chinese-Japanese war, where he meets pilot Loy. At first she doesn't trust him, but by a trick he manages to get her hired as his assistant. Film makes it to aviation lists although there are only brief flying scenes.

AIRCRAFT: Lockheed Orion camera ship, Ryan ST.
Top Gun (Paramount 1986, 110m) D: Tony Scott. Tom Cruise = Lt Pete Mitchell, Val Kilmer = Iceman, Kelly McGillis = Charlie, Tom Skerritt = Mike Metcalf. Screenplay: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr. Macho students of an elite flying school for advanced fighter pilots compete to be best in the class. Art Scholl (uncredited) was killed doing an inverted flat spin during filming, his plane unbalanced by the weight of camera equipment. AA Oscars for Best Music, Best Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Sound 1987; Golden Globe award for Best Score, Best Song 1987.

AIRCRAFT: F-14, F-5 as "MiG-28" (no such animal).

Trivia: (1) Armament of the F-14s change in midair. (2) The Top Gun training area is in the California desert, over 300 miles from the coast, but when Maverick enters the flat spin, it is reported he is "heading out to sea." (3) When Maverick is launched to help Iceman, he is about 110 miles away. Claiming he'll be there in 30 seconds, he would need to fly at 13,200 mph (Mach 18)! (4) When Maverick is flying toward Iceman, he says he is flying supersonic, but his plane is shown with the wings set forward. (5) Maverick fires the same missile from the same wing station at least three times. (6) When Hollywood's plane is hit in the final fight, he ejects, but the figure is clearly a skydiver, as there is no chair and he throws open his parachute, which would have opened automatically.
Tora! Tora! Tora! (Fox 1970, 143m) D: Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda. Martin Balsam = Adm Kimmel, Joseph Cotten = Henry Stimson, E G Marshall = LtCol Bratton, Tatsuya Mihashi = Cmdr Genda, Jason Robards = Genl Short, Soh Yamamura = Adm Yamamoto. Screenplay: Larry Forrester, Hideo Oguni. It's on Aerofiles' Top Ten list of all-time favorite aviation films.

Trivia: (1) As bombers fly towards Pearl Harbor they pass over the white cross at Scofield Barracks which was erected in memory of the people that were about to be killed in the raid. (2) Japanese carriers seen when the attack planes fly past them after launch are obviously American, with radar domes that Jap carriers did not have at the time. (3) Some of the dummy bombs visible on Zeros taking off from their carriers have no fins [Those are actually fuel tanks — Charles Burcher 12/4/06]. (4) A B-17 comes in to land with only one wheel down, but in one shot both mains are down. (5) When Bratton and Kramer enter the Navy crypto workroom, the Marine sentry wears a khaki shirt and tie with the dress-blue uniform's red-striped blue trousers. The USMC didn't adopt this uniform until after WW2.
Toward the Unknown (Warner Bros 1956, 115m) D: Mervyn LeRoy. James Garner = Maj Joe Craven, Murray Hamilton = Maj Bromo Lee, William Holden = Maj Lincoln Bond, Lloyd Nolan = Gen William Banner. Screenplay: Beirne Lay Jr. Interesting yarn about test pilots, focusing on a washed-up test pilot (Holden) eager to regain the respect of his men. Garner's film debut. Aerial director: Paul Mantz. Filmed at Edwards AFB CA. Also seen on tv as Brink of Hell.

AIRCRAFT: Bell X-2; Convair B-36 / C-131 / XF-92A, Douglas B-66 / X-3, Lockheed F-94C, Martin XB-51 as "Gilbert XF-120", N American F-100A / F-100C, McDonnell F-101, Sikorsky H-19.

Trivia: Reputedly had originally scheduled Clark Gable (as Banner) and Gregory Peck (as Bond) but contractual problems required a recasting.
Traitor, The SEE Wunder des Fliegens.
Trapped in the Sky (Columbia 1939, 61m) D: Lewis D Collins. Katherine DeMille = Carol Rayder, C Henry Gordon = Fornay, Jack Holt = Major, Ralph Morgan = Col Whalen. Screenplay: Gordon Rigby. Spies in the sky.
Trouble in the Sky (Universal/UI 1961, 76m) D: Charles Frend. Michael Craig = Capt Hugh Dallas, Peter Cushing = Capt Clive Judd, Bernard Lee = Capt George Gort, George Sanders = Sir Arnold Hobbes, Elizabeth Seal = Charlotte Gort. A veteran pilot is condemned for an error that causes a crash. He later dies in a crash with similar circumstances and an examiner looks for reasons for the crashes. Based on David Beaty's novel inspired by the 1952 crash of one of BOAC's new Comet jetliners at Rome. UK title: Cone Of Silence. There is only one plane seen, but a very rare one, the only Avro 706 Ashton Mk.3 [WB493] that was used in 1955 as a test-bed for turbojets. (-- Christian Santoir 4/10/06)
Tuskegee Airmen, The (HBO TV 1995, 106m) D: Robert Markowitz. Andre Braugher = Benjamin O Davis, Laurence Fishburne = Hannibal Lee, Cuba Gooding Jr = Billy Roberts, Allen Payne = Walter Peoples, Courtney Vance = Glenn, Malcolm Warner = Leroy Cappy. Screenplay: T S Cook & Robert Williams. Based on a true story, a group of black pilots overcome racism and political opposition to become an effective and noteworthy US fighter group in WW2. Memorable aerial sequences. Many Emmy, Golden Globes, and SAG nominations and awards in 1996. From an Amazon review: "Rousing, if slow-starting and episodic, but periodically grounded by a host of war movie clichés, notably the calculated demise of practically every trainee introduced in the opening scenes—ironic given the 332nd's real-life combat record of high casualties for the enemy, low casualties for themselves, and no losses among the bombers they escorted."


Trivia: Obvious P-51 mock-ups and cut-outs in background when the unit is in Europe. During the final dogfight, underwing droptanks keep appearing and disappearing.
Twelve O'Clock High (Fox 1949, 132m) D: Henry King. Dean Jagger = Maj Stovall, Hugh Marlowe = LtCol Ben Gately, Gary Merrill = Col Davenport, Millard Mitchell = Genl Pritchard, Gregory Peck = BrigGenl Frank Savage. Screenplay: Sy Bartlett, Beirne Lay Jr. Aerials by Paul Mantz, et al; Mantz's legendary one-man B-17 belly landing. Filmed at Ozark Field AL. AA Oscar 1950 for Best Supporting Actor: Jagger. It's on Aerofiles' Top Ten list of all-time favorite aviation films.


Trivia: Filter cigarettes shown weren't popularly used until well after the war's end.
Twelve O'Clock High (tv series; Quinn Martin 1964, 60m). Paul Burke = Col Joe Gallagher, Andrew Duggan = BrigGenl Ed Britt, Robert Lansing = BrigGenl Frank Savage, John Larkin = MajGenl Wiley Crowe, Frank Overton = Maj Harvey Stovall, Chris Robinson = Sgt Sandy Komansky. Aired 1964-67. Filmed at Chino CA, Santa Maria CA. Golden Globe award 1965 for Best Tv Show.

AIRCRAFT: B-17 and others; USAF combat footage.
20,000 Men a Year - (Fox 1939, 83m). D: Alfred E Green. Preston Foster, Edward Gargan, Mary Healy, Margaret Lindsay, Maxie Rosenbloom, Randolph Scott, Robert Shaw. Screenplay: Lou Breslow & Owen Francis, based on a story by Frank Wead. Technical Advisor: Paul Mantz. Features the beginnings of the WW2 Civilian Pilot Training program, which planned to recruit 20,000 men a year for pilot training.