Desperate Journey

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Desperate Journey
Desperate Journey - Poster.jpg
1942 Theatrical Poster
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Written by Arthur T. Horman
Starring Errol Flynn
Ronald Reagan
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Bert Glennon
Editing by Rudi Fehr
Studio Warner Bros.
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • September 25, 1942 (1942-09-25)
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2 million

Desperate Journey is a 1942 American World War II aviation film starring Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan. The supporting cast includes Raymond Massey, Alan Hale and Arthur Kennedy, and the movie was directed by Raoul Walsh. A handful of downed Allied airmen make their way out of the Third Reich, often with their fists.


The surviving crew members of a Royal Air Force bomber shot down near the former Polish border traverse the breadth of Nazi Germany and the occupied Netherlands to get back to England. Led by Flight Lt. Terrence Forbes, an Australian (Flynn), and Flying Officer Johnny Hammond, an American (Reagan), pursued by a Nazi major (Massey) and aided by an anti-Nazi nurse (Coleman), the men repeatedly evade capture, eventually flying home in a recaptured British airplane that the Germans had planned to use in a sneak attack on London.


Production notes[edit]

  • Production Dates: late January-early April 1942
  • The film marked the first time Flynn played an Australian on screen.[1]
  • During production of the film, Flynn's February 1942 draft board physical revealed the presence of Tuberculosis in his right lung, and, unwilling to face an extended unpaid layoff, Flynn opted to conceal his condition from Warners. Between his illness and the exacting schedule mandated by the efficient Raoul Walsh, Flynn dropped to 165 pounds as the shoot progressed, requiring his wardrobe to be first refitted, and then ultimately padded. Reportedly late for every day of shooting, and demanding not to work past 5 PM, Flynn's on-set conduct did little to endear him to the studio.
  • Ronald Reagan, an Air Force reservist before World War II, received his call for active service while the film was in production. While Warners lobbied the government for a 30-day extension, the Air Force was only willing to offer a week, forcing Walsh to shoot scenes with Reagan out of sequence. In the post-war years, Reagan's Hollywood career would never regain the same level of momentum he had before being called up for duty, and he'd never see the same degree of influence - as an actor.
  • Reagan was fresh off his acclaimed effort in Kings Row (1942), and his professional star was at its brightest. He made the most out of the film's showcase scene, in which he gulled Massey into being slugged unconscious by releasing a stream of doubletalk. By multiple accounts, Flynn sulked when he wasn't given the scene, and, to Reagan's chagrin, lobbied intensely to get it. Producer Hal B. Wallis was adamant that the scene be shot as written; a closed-door shouting match with director Walsh did nothing to change his mind. "I've always been grateful to Hal for that," Reagan would later recall.
  • Released on VHS Home Video in 1994. Not available on DVD as a standalone film, but available as part of the TCM Spotlight: Errol Flynn Adventures collection (2010). Not released on Blu-ray.


This film went on to gross $2 million for Warners Bros., the third Flynn film of that year to reach that coveted mark, according to Variety. This was despite the fact that the film screened during Flynn's rape trial.[1] The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Visual Effects (Byron Haskin, Nathan Levinson) at the 15th Academy Awards.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer * Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 114
  2. ^ "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-22. 

External links[edit]