The Dawn Patrol (1938) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Dawn Patrol (1938)

The Dawn Patrol (1938)

The Dawn Patrol





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Dawn Patrol Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

This 1938 remake of Howard Hawks' 1930 film The Dawn Patrol is faithful to the original's basic plotline. The story is set during World War I; the scene is the French headquarters of the British Royal Flying Corps, 59th division. The corps is suffering heavy losses, a fact that ace pilot Courtney (Errol Flynn) ascribes to the supposed ruthlessness of squadron commander Brand (Basil Rathbone). What the audience knows that Courtney doesn't is that Brand is distraught at losing his men, but is forced by his own superiors to push the pilots beyond their limits. After being accused day after day of being a butcher, Brand takes grim delight in turning over his command to Courtney. Soon Courtney finds himself enduring the "butcher" tag, especially after the younger brother of his best friend Scott (David Niven) is killed. To redeem himself, Courtney gets Scott drunk and takes his place in a suicidal bombing mission. Courtney is killed, Scott assumes command, and the cycle begins again. The extensive use of combat scenes from the original Dawn Patrol has led some viewers to assume that the 1930 version is the superior of the two. In fact, the remake is far better than the original on several counts, not least of which was the star power of Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone in their third screen teaming.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Seton I. Miller, Dan Totheroh
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 27, 2007
Warner Bros.


Errol Flynn
as Courtney
Basil Rathbone
as Major Brand
Carl Esmond
as Von Mueller
Peter Willes
as Hollister
Morton Lowry
as Johnnie Scott
James Burke
as Flaherty, the Motor...
Stuart Hall
as Bentham, the Singer
Herbert Evans
as Scott's Mechanic
Sidney Bracey
as Ransom, Brand's Orde...
John Sutton
as Adjutant
George Kirby
as Kirby, the Orderly
Tim Henning
as Orderly
John Rodion
as Russell, the Replace...
Norman Willis
as German Aviator
Gilbert Wilson
as Moorehead
Anthony Marsh
as Rutherford
Leo Nomis
as Aeronautic Superviso...
Hal Brazeale
as Gregory
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Dawn Patrol

Critic Reviews for The Dawn Patrol

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | June 10, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

...camaraderie and dogfights and bombing runs and stiff upper lips.

Full Review… | April 21, 2010
Movie Metropolis

Competent remake of the 1930 Howard Hawks film of the same title.

Full Review… | August 31, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Dawn Patrol

Clear eyed depiction of the cost and dangers for bombers during wartime. Errol Flynn is very good, a reminder that he was excellent not only in period pictures and westerns but quite capable in modern dress dramas. Strong supporting cast helps with Basil Rathbone standing out as a man who understands but is troubled by the weight of his duty even while others do not and is compassionate enough when the that weight has shifted to offer solace. David Niven's star moved much higher with his performace here, it would still be a few years before he moved into the top ranks but he was done with unimportant roles from this point on. Goulding's direction is steady and assured.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Strange how men like that can annoy me...

Courtney and Major Brand are constantly at odds during World War I. Courtney is worn out from seeing his countrymen brought in, sent up in airplane dog fights, and brutally shot down. It has gotten so bad that most of his soldiers have less than 15 hours of flight experience before flying into war. Courtney sinks deeper and deeper into depression as he watches his troops be murdered and the missions keep coming from Major Brand...

"You don't think I enjoyed losing those boys do you?"

Edmund Goulding, director of Grand Hotel, The Trespasser, The Broadway Melody, Dark Victory, That Certain Woman, Riptide, and The Devil's Holiday, delivers Dawn Patrol. The storyline for this picture was very well done and a nice war time drama. The characters and script were well written and executed. The cast includes Errol Flynn, Basil Rathborn, David Niven, Donald Crisp, and Barry Fitzgerald.

"Those are the orders."

I recently came across this on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and couldn't wait to see this Errol Flynn classic. He is very good in this movie. He's often a fun loving, charming character; but in this, he plays a very dramatic easy to root for character. I loved his performance and recommend catching this.

"He's killed all of our men."

Grade: B

Kevin Robbins


"Man is a savage animal who, periodically, to relieve his nervous tension tries to destroy himself."-Capt. Courtney (Errol Flynn)

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