The Fractured Mirror entry: Stunt Pilot (1939)
3 months ago
– Tue, Sep 12, 2023 at 05:11:53 PM
This is one of the least interesting movies I've covered for the book but it still has some interesting elements, like being based on a comic strip, the star being an actual pilot (to the extent that he played a pilot for five years in movies, then was an actual pilot for 40) and being one of FOUR Tailspin Tommy adventures released in 1939 alone.
Stunt Pilot (1939)
Despite the inherently dangerous, exciting and suspenseful nature of their profession, there are far fewer movies about stuntmen than there are about actors, writers, producers and directors. But there are enough movies about profession to establish a set of cliches.
The 1939 cheapie Stunt Pilot stumbles into every last stuntman movie cliche. It barely lasts an hour yet finds time for every hoary convention in the sub-genre.
Stunt Pilot is an adaptation of the comic strip Tailspin Tommy, which exploited the public’s fascination with Charles Lindbergh.
The hopelessly bland John Trent, who was a real-life pilot before and after his brief acting career, stars as Tailspin Tommy Tompkins. Stunt Pilot finds the comic strip hero working as a stunt pilot for Sheehan (Pat O’Malley), a domineering director who isn't above killing his crew for personal and professional reasons. When Tailspin Tommy is framed for murder he must solve the crime before he ends up in the big house himself.
Stunt Pilot fatally lacks the color, excitement and social commentary endemic to the thriving sub-genre of stuntman adventures.
Stunt Pilot feels more like an hour long TV show for a good reason. It was previously a serial and spawned three movies in addition to Stunt Pilot in 1939alone. That explains why the movie ends with the characters breaking the fourth wall and admonishing audiences to check out Tailspin Tommy’s next adventure. Given the forgettable nature of the film itself that feels more like a threat than a cause for anticipation.