For Reel

The Lost Squadron (1932)
June 28, 2012, 7:13 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George Archainbaud

A fascinating, thoroughly cynical aviation thriller from director George Archainbaud, The Lost Squadron stars the impressive ensemble of Richard Dix, Robert Armstrong, and Joel McCrea as pilots who find jobs after the war as stunt fliers for a tyrannical Hollywood director played by Erich von Stroheim. Like I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang did so memorably the same year, the picture bluntly criticizes the poor treatment of war veterans with great impact. In particular, Robert Armstrong plays a drunk whose vice is explored without condescension – one might consider the presentation of his character as being a precursor to The Lost Weekend, given that at the time drunks in Hollywood were still more often depicted with broad humor by comedic talents like Frank McHugh or Guy Kibbee. The cruel ironies that the only work that the pilots can find is as stunt-fliers and, in a late twist, that a war veteran is faced head-on with the consequences of a murder, pack just enough bitterness that the film’s anti-war message resonates strongly. On an unrelated note, fans of the pre-Code era should take some delight in a surprising moment in which one pilot gives the middle finger to another.

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