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Night Flight (1933)

Passed | | Drama | 6 October 1933 (USA)
Polio breaks out in Rio de Janeiro, the serum is in Santiago and there's only one way to get the medicine where it's desperately needed: flown in by daring pilots who risk the treacherous weather and forbidding peaks of the Andes.


Clarence Brown


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (novel), Oliver H.P. Garrett (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Barrymore ... Riviere
Helen Hayes ... Simone Fabian
Clark Gable ... Jules Fabian
Lionel Barrymore ... Insp. Robineau
Robert Montgomery ... Auguste Pellerin
Myrna Loy ... Wife of Brazilian Pilot
William Gargan ... Brazilian Pilot
C. Henry Gordon ... Daudet
Leslie Fenton ... Jules' Radio Operator / Co-Pilot
Harry Beresford ... Pierre Roblet
Frank Conroy ... Radio Operator
Dorothy Burgess ... Pellerin's Girlfriend
Irving Pichel ... Dr. Decosta
Helen Jerome Eddy ... Worried Mother
Buster Phelps ... Sick Child


Polio breaks out in Rio de Janeiro, the serum is in Santiago and there's only one way to get the medicine where it's desperately needed: flown in by daring pilots who risk the treacherous weather and forbidding peaks of the Andes.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis










Release Date:

6 October 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nachtflug See more »

Filming Locations:

Denver, Colorado, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The first MGM film to carry a producer's credit on screen and in promotional materials. See more »


Everyone involved in sending the medicine to Rio de Janeiro is told that it is urgently needed for children in the infantile paralysis ward, that every hour counts. But the package is addressed only to "City Hospital," with no name or even department. See more »


Wife of Brazilian Pilot: What's it all for? Just so somebody in Paris can get a postcard on Tuesday instead of Thursday?
See more »

Crazy Credits

During opening credits, the film title is done as "sky writing" by an airplane, and the plane is just finishing the last "T" on "flight". See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: Super 8 (2011) See more »


How Dry I Am
Sung by Robert Montgomery and Dorothy Burgess
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User Reviews

when it was pioneering to fly at night
17 March 2013 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Clarence Brown is the director of the 1933 film, "Night Flight," featuring an impressive cast, including John and Lionel Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, and Robert Montgomery.

The story concerns mail flights at night, an innovative thing at that time. Both the Barrymore men are quite robust here and delivered strong acting. John is the tough, hard-nosed head of the service, and Lionel (sans wheelchair which his arthritis would send him to later on) plays an assistant. I would have rather seen them together in something else, though they were both very good.

In the beginning, we're shown a little boy in South America with infantile paralysis waiting for a serum that will be rushed to the doctor from Chile via the new night mail service.

There's not a tremendous amount of dialogue in "Night Flight," but there is a lot of very powerful music by Herbert Stothart and some magnificent footage of planes going through the clouds. It's very atmospheric. What dialogue there is today seems very melodramatic but is handled well by John Barrymore and Helen Hayes. Hayes in the film is married to a pilot played by Clark Gable. Gable is very handsome with such a warm smile, and he shows his character's real love of flying. Montgomery plays a playboy pilot who likes a good time as well as flying.

It's amazing how with a film so old, with those archaic planes, how one can get drawn into a story, yet somehow I did. I had a few problems - first of all, I couldn't figure out the countries and the different plane connections. It seemed like the service originated in France - I kind of had to let that go.

During a storm, Gable sends down flares that ride on little parachutes - it was early days for special effects. These looked a little cartoonish but were interesting nonetheless as they floated down to the water.

Some people don't care for Clarence Brown, but I think he was able to really set a mood in his films, this and The Rains Came being good examples.

"Night Flight" is one reason why I love classic films. We've come so far in aviation; eighty-plus years ago, it was unheard of to fly at night. And when you look at the planes, it's a wonder they got off the ground day or night. Maybe it was my mood or the Stothart music, but it was something to think about.

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