The Marines Fly High

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The Marines Fly High
Theatrical poster
Directed byGeorge Nicholls, Jr.
Benjamin Stoloff (as Ben Stoloff)
Written byJerome Cady
A.J. Bolton
A.C. Edington (story)
Produced byRobert Sisk
StarringRichard Dix
Chester Morris
Lucille Ball
CinematographyFrank Redman
Edited byFrederic Knudtson
Music byRoy Webb
Distributed byRKO Pictures
Release date
  • March 7, 1940 (1940-03-07)
Running time
68 min.
CountryUnited States

The Marines Fly High is a 1940 action film, starring Richard Dix, Chester Morris and Lucille Ball and directed by George Nicholls, Jr. and Benjamin Stoloff from a story by A.C. Edington.[1][N 1]


In 1940, the Central American cocoa plantation owned by American Joan Grant (Lucille Ball) needs protection from bandits led by El Vengador (John Eldredge). She asks the Marines stationed nearby under the command of Colonel Hill (Paul Harvey) for help. Lieutenants Danny Darrick (Richard Dix) and Jim Malone (Chester Morris) fly a mission to seek out the outlaws. Although they have orders to protect her, both men vie for Joan's affection.

John Henderson, the plantation foreman, is really El Vengador. He kidnaps Joan and sets a trap for the Marines he knows will try to rescue her. The two rivals eventually realize that to defeat the enemy, they will have to work together. When Malone is heading for an ambush, Derrick flies to his aid and rescues Joan.



Principal photography for The Marines Fly High took place from late October to December 2, 1939, on RKO sound stages. The backlots served as the locale for many of RKO's features set in more exotic locations.[3][N 2] The use of U.S. Marine aircraft and the ability of both Dix and Morris to look comfortable as pilots led an air of authenticity to the programmer.[5]


The Marines Fly High was a typical B movie whose action scenes received good notices from critics with Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times in a contemporary review, noting the film was "... a comfortably agile adventure story."[6] A more recent appraisal by reviewer Frank Miller likewise described the film as "crammed" with action.[2]

Film historian Richard Jewell in The RKO Story (1982), characterized the screenplay in The Marines Fly High by Jerry Cady and Lieutenant Commander A.J. Bolton as "dull" and "lacklustre".[7]

Aviation film historian James H. Farmer in Celluloid Wings: The Impact of Movies on Aviation (1984) noted The Marines Fly High was punctuated by "the quick-paced roar of machine guns, rifles and airplane engines in this low-budget effort (that) fortunately leaves little time for a careful look at the lackluster plot."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ During the production, George Nichols, Jr. was killed in a car accident. RKO had Benjamin Stoloff complete the filming as the new director.[2]
  2. ^ Lucille Ball would later purchase the RKO 40-Acres backlot as part of her Desilu Studios holdings.[4]


  1. ^ a b Farmer 1984, p. 319.
  2. ^ a b Miller, Frank. "Articles: 'The Marines Fly High' (1940)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: July 9, 2014.
  3. ^ "Original Print Information: 'The Marines Fly High' (1940)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: July 9, 2014.
  4. ^ "Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa." Retrieved: July 9, 2014.
  5. ^ Wynne 1987, p. 174.
  6. ^ Nugent, Frank S. "Screen: The Marines Fly High."The New York Times, March 5, 1940.
  7. ^ Jewell 1982, p. 144.


  • Farmer, James H. Celluloid Wings: The Impact of Movies on Aviation. Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: Tab Books Inc., 1984. ISBN 978-0-83062-374-7.
  • Jewell, Richard B. The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. ISBN 0-517-54656-6.
  • 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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