Ned Trumpet, the chief pilot of a Navy blimp, is given to weaving accounts of the fighting prowess of his non-existent son. His friendship with widow Maude Weaver and her son Jess in effect sets him up with a real family.
Director William A. Wellman adds another to his long line of salutes-to-aviation films in this bio of an aviation pioneer, John Montgomery (Glenn Ford.) In 1883 he built a practical glider despite the opposition of his friends, who thought he was crazy, and of his family, who were afraid that his dreams of flying would hurt his father's political ambitions. He pursues his education at Santa Clara University where the Jesuits lend a helping and understanding hand. An earthquake destroys what appears to be a working model for an airplane, but a gold-sorting machine Montgomery invented, and then neglected, promises to provide for his financial needs to keep working on his aircraft until he gets involved in costly lawsuits defending his invention. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Montgomery was killed on October 31, 1911, when his glider, the Evergreen, crashed. His head hit a bolt on the glider, just behind an ear, penetrating his brain. His death was instantaneous, despite the more sentimental ending shown in the film, which was not a critical success upon its release. See more »
Montgomery's pilot was actually named Daniel Maloney, not Mahoney as portrayed in the film. See more »
Depending on whether you believe the plot of Gallant Journey verbatim or not, John J. Montgomery may have been the first man to make a heavier than air flight and he did it in 1883, twenty years before the Wright Brothers did their thing at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Whether you do or not there is no denying that Glenn Ford gave a wonderful performance as the earnest young man, consumed as so many were at that time of the dream of manned flight. Janet Blair played the ever helpful and supportive wife of Ford and does it well.
The film is directed by William Wellman, one of many he did in his career combining his two great loves, film and aviation. Of course Wellman reached the pinnacle of his aviation success with the first Academy Award winning Best film, Wings.
The film is narrated by Charlie Ruggles to a group of post World War II kids and he's Montgomery's brother who has outlived him by a considerable period. Montgomery when he wasn't doing his aviation glider experiments, earned a living teaching science at Santa Clara College where a couple of supportive priests are played by Arthur Shields and Charles Kemper. Best in the supporting parts in the film however is Jim Lloyd who plays the balloonist daredevil who helps pilot Ford's experiments when an inner ear problem forces him to stop doing the actual flying.
Aviation historians still debate Montgomery's actual contributions to the saga of manned flight. But I think Montgomery himself would have been well pleased with how Bill Wellman and Glenn Ford told his tale.
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