The Dawn Patrol - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Dawn Patrol Reviews

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½ February 14, 2018
Basil Rathbone is the commander of a bomber squadron during WWI. His superiors continually order him to send his men on increasingly dangerous missions, which gives him a reputation as a butcher among his men, especially squadron leader Errol Flynn. Flynn does not realize the strain on Rathbone, but becomes acutely aware of it when Rathbone promotes him to his own job. Flynn gains the same reputation, especially with his former friend and new squadron leader David Niven. This remake of Howard Hawks's 1930 film is a solid little flick.
October 24, 2015
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
½ October 4, 2015
good WWI pic & remake of a 1930 version of same name
½ January 31, 2015
A well acted and good World War One Film. The Dog Fights were good for that era of Film Making.
April 26, 2014
Great WW1 flying drama.

A remake of Howard Hawks' "The Dawn Patrol" (1930) (sometimes known as "Flight Commander"). Not sure why it needed to be remade - it was great as it was.

This version doesn't add anything. Plot is almost to-the-letter identical to the original. Flying sequences and cinematography here are about as good, even though this movie was made 8 years later.

Not that there's anything wrong with this movie. Still a very gritty and accurate look at life, and death, in a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) fighter squadron. Details fairly well the burden of command, of sending pilots to almost certain death.

One area where this version trumps the original is in the performances. The original's performances weren't bad, but weren't great either. Here the performances are superb, especially from Errol Flynn, David Niven and Basil Rathbone.

As said, not sure why this was (re)made, but a great movie nevertheless.
January 4, 2014
Love the Herman Goering lookalike in the final dogfight
½ November 19, 2013
Top Gun with bi-planes, but actually far better than that glib phrase might suggest. The Dawn Patrol is an exciting "boys own" tale (literally, not a single female cast member) on the one hand, with requisite exciting battle scenes in the air, and lots of tally-ho hard-drinking camaraderie and romantic "flying ace" cliches like celebrating your opponents on the ground. But on the other hand, it's a lot more - an anti-war acknowledgment on the tiny turnover time of increasingly young men being sacrificed as cannon fodder due to older men's folly and insensitivity, and especially a nod to the weight of command/leadership - the "it's always lonely at the top" thingy. I love the way the responsibility for the corp gets passed down across the three lead characters, helping each understand their predecessor better. And of course the film is crammed with stiff-upper-lipped star power of the highest order. So forget the uppteenth rerun of Maverick, Goose, and Viper next time it's on, and give this one a go instead. You won't regret it.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2012
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.
½ October 26, 2011

"Man is a savage animal who, periodically, to relieve his nervous tension tries to destroy himself."-Capt. Courtney (Errol Flynn)
July 10, 2011
[80/B] This is an excellent war drama that focuses on the camraderie, emotional politics, and perseverance of a hard-drinking, stiff-upper-lipped squadron of the Royal Flying Corps during World War I, where routine patrols and daily low-flying sorties against German troop deployments mean the loss of many young, inexperienced fighter pilots, and the the grim accounting of those who survive them.

It's all rather dialogue-rich stuff, built on the banter of indomitable friends (and rueful commanders) between missions, snatching merriment where they can before going back up again against bad odds, with measures of cheerful determination and the customary "war is hell" platitudes somewhat staidly presented. It nevertheless sails along very well upon the sturdy wheels of a solid script and pro acting by Rathbone, Niven, and especially Flynn, in fine form and perfectly cast to embody the chipper heroics of these aces.

Includes a lot of nifty dogfight footage, and some evocative location cinematography. Well worth your time.
January 8, 2011
The Dawn Patrol (1938) -- [8.5] -- Errol Flynn and David Niven play WWI pilots confronting the grimmest odds of survival in this exciting and moving remake of Howard Hawks' 1930 original. With its wartime setting and nary a woman in the cast, "The Dawn Patrol" boils down to (let's face it and embrace it) love among men -- camraderie, brotherhood and sacrifice. Watch Flynn when he learns Niven's plane went down. Watch Niven when he learns Flynn took his place on a suicide mission. Watch Basil Rathbone (in a rare, non-baddie role) struggle with his superiors over orders that most assuredly send fifteen and sixteen year old boys to their deaths. It may not be romantic love, but there's more love in this movie than any romantic comedy I've ever seen. When a character suffers in anguish over nothing more than their concern for another character, I don't care who the characters are -- that movie is a love story, and it will have me in the palm of its hands. But before you think "The Dawn Patrol" is nothing more than a male weepy, know that it's also got a healthy swashbuckling side. The sequence where Flynn and Niven betray orders and launch a daring, two-man bombing run on the enemy is one of the most thrilling scenes of 1930s cinema.
½ December 16, 2010
One of Errol Flynn's best performances in a highly entertaining old fashioned WWI movie.
½ December 11, 2010
Flynn and Niven very natural, and Rathbone even cracks a smile as the not quite baddy. Some good flying scenes, mostly from the 1930 original, even if the aircraft are all wrong for 1915. But it was the time of the Fokker Scourge, so the events are trueish enough.
August 10, 2010
I was quite disappointed in this, considering the amazing cast and subject matter that's right up my alley.
½ May 27, 2010
2.5: I would definitely dexribe this as an anti-WWI film put out just in time to discourage U.S. involvement in WWII. The effects are pretty good for its time and the performances are, for the most part, pretty solid. Flynn is Flynn. He really only ever had one persona, but it works here. Rathbone is a quality foil, who isn't really a foil in this case. Niven works as the trusty sidekick. It's pretty much a standard aviator picture of the era, minus the women of course.
½ May 24, 2010
A good movie that speaks to the senselessness of war and gives a good sense of camaraderie in times of war. Errol Flynn's character was very noble and heroic, in a very real sense. You watch this movie and can picture it being close to reality in WW1.
June 21, 2009
Watched this with Sergei last night. This one was a very good movie centered on the futility of war, but specifically World War I. Flynn and Niven had an unmistakable chemistry that made the on-screen comraderie believable and touching. The movie had a good touch of comedy as well as depth and moved along at a steady pace. This one is definitely worth seeing.
½ May 31, 2009
definetely a non-sensical that says 'war is hell' though not as effectively as all quiet on the western front. however, the combination of bathbone, nivens, and flynn is enough to watch the movie and keep you entertained. never a more dashing collection of actors has been asssembled for a 30s war film
½ December 26, 2008
Masterful cast delivers here. Niven surprised me at how deep his character went. One of the best war movies. I really like the message about heroes and leadership.
November 13, 2008
The anti-war rhetoric IS rather shallow and poorly thought, but it also is brief -- as in, one or two lines of dialogue. Everything else is uniformly wonderful. The acting is very naturalistic for 1938, there is real chemistry between the three main actors, Errol Flynn is perhaps at his nicest and most likable, though still quite roguish. And David Niven is absolutely hilarious. Together they are heartwarming and brilliant. The portrayal of the war is realistic in how it wiped out the entire young generation, yet it is not gory or graphic, or even totally depressing. Most importantly, the movie argues correctly for the need for heroes, something even Hemingway didn't understand.
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