Men Against the Sky

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Men Against the Sky
Men Against the Sky-poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Leslie Goodwins
Produced by Howard Benedict
Written by John Twist (story)
Nathanael West
Starring Richard Dix
Kent Taylor
Music by Frank Tours
Roy Webb
Cinematography Frank Redman
Edited by Desmond Marquette
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) September 6, 1940 (USA)
Running time 75 minutes
Country  United States
Language English

Men Against the Sky is a 1940 drama starring Richard Dix and written by Nathanael West and based on a story by John Twist. Directed by Leslie Goodwins, this film deals with the dangers of flying and aircraft development in the period before World War II.


Phil Mercedes (Dix), who was once a record-setting pilot, is an aging, alcoholic, aeronautics show performer. While inebriated, he crashes his stunt plane into a barn and is grounded for a year. His sister Kay (Barrie) is his only means of support, who hopes to land a job as a draftswoman for Martin Ames (Taylor), the chief engineer for Dan McLean (Lowe), an airplane manufacturer that hopes to win a big contract with the government given the war in Europe. Though Kay is not a very skilled draftsman, she shows Ames some drawings with creative designs, from Phil, that interest him. Preliminary tests of the aircraft prove disastrous, but Phil establishes the viability of his designs by flying the experimental aircraft himself, which restores his damaged reputation.



Paul Mantz, noted movie "stunt" pilot was the aviation consultant on the film. Also notable is the use of footage of the experimental Hughes H-1 Racer during its trials.


Bosley Crowther of the New York Times in a contemporary review, characterized Men Against the Sky as a "generally entertaining little action picture," though he criticized its "maudlin heroics", the storyline which was "routine and obvious" and the performances that were no better than "stock and pedestrian."[1]


  1. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Men Against the Sky (1940).", New York Times, September 12, 1940. Retrieved: March 15, 2009.
  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 0-933126-85-9.

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