Flight for Freedom

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Flight for Freedom
Flight for Freedom.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lothar Mendes
Produced by David Hempstead
Written by Jane Murfin
Oliver H. P. Garrett
S. K. Lauren
Story by Horace McCoy
Starring Rosalind Russell
Fred MacMurray
Herbert Marshall
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Lee Garmes
Editing by Roland Gross
Distributed by RKO
Release dates
  • April 15, 1943 (1943-04-15)
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Flight for Freedom (aka Stand to Die) is a 1943 American drama film directed by Lothar Mendes. Film historians and Earhart scholars consider Flight for Freedom an "a-clef" version of the Amelia Earhart life story concentrating on the sensational aspects of her disappearance during her 1937 world flight.[1] The film's ending speculated that the main character's disappearance was connected to a secret mission to aid the U.S. government.[2]


Tonie Carter (Russell) is a well-known aviator who is fighting the built-in prejudice against women pilots in the aviation establishment of the 1930s. After setting flight records, she embarks on a top-secret mission. Although she is in love with fellow aviator Randy Britton (MacMurray), he does not approve of the flight, nor does her flight instructor, Paul Turner (Marshall), as it involves flying over Japanese held territory in the Pacific. Carter vanishes during the latter part of the world flight, triggering a massive search which proves fruitless.


As per screen credits:[3]


Flight for Freedom was produced by RKO, whose CEO, Floyd Odlum, was married to Jacqueline Cochran, one of Earhart's close friends and a renowned aviator in her own right. Claimed to be based on a screenplay submitted by Amelia Earhart's husband, George P. Putnam,[4] Rosalind Russell's characterization of the Earhart-like aviator Tonie Carter, shows Carter establishing a reputation as "the Lady Lindbergh" and setting numerous aviation records. Other characters are loosely drawn from real life, such as Earhart confidant and instructor, Paul Mantz as well as Fred Noonan, albeit in the role of pilot Randy Britton.

Principal photography was completed from late-August to late-October 1942, with additional scenes shot in December, the release was held back to coincide with the headline news surrounding the Battle of Midway.[5]


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times in his contemporary review, echoed the popular notion that the film was based on the life of Amelia Earhart. His lukewarm review touched on the central theme as being tacitly untenable.[6]


The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Albert S. D'Agostino, Carroll Clark, Darrell Silvera and Harley Miller).[7]



  1. ^ Goldstein and Dillon 1997, pp. 273–274.
  2. ^ Butler 1997, p. 416.
  3. ^ "Flight for Freedom - Full credits." IMDb. Retrieved: September 4, 2010.
  4. ^ Lovell 1989, p. 421.
  5. ^ "Notes: Flight for Freedom." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: August 12, 2013.
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley. " 'Flight for Freedom,' a film speculation on fate of woman flier, with Rosalind Russell in lead, at the Music Hall." The New York Times, April 16, 1943. Retrieved: September 4, 2010.
  7. ^ "Flight for Freedom (1943)." The New York Times. Retrieved: September 4, 2010.


  • Butler, Susan. East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1997. ISBN 0-306-80887-0.
  • Goldstein, Donald M. and Katherine V. Dillon. Amelia: The Centennial Biography of an Aviation Pioneer. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 1997. ISBN 1-57488-134-5.
  • Lovell, Mary S. The Sound of Wings. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. ISBN 0-312-03431-8.
  • Rich, Doris L. Amelia Earhart: A Biography. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. ISBN 1-56098-725-1.

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