Hawks brings The Dawn Patrol down into the trenches, with Baxter as the (French) CO coming to the end of his tether as the death toll mounts, and March as the junior officer who takes over. There's a conventional love interest (Lang as a nurse), a sticky subplot involving Barrymore (he's Baxter's father, and though considerably over-age, joins up to do his bit alongside his son), and some swivelling between anti-war and jingoistic moods. The climax, a heroic twin death scene (with Barrymore redeeming his former cowardice by suicidally guiding the blinded Baxter to a crucial observation post) is embarrassingly OTT. But elsewhere Hawksian understatement keeps the lachrymose tendencies at bay (though William Faulkner co-scripted, it appears that Nunnally Johnson did a rewrite job), turning the film into another of his finely-tuned studies of comradeship under stress; and there is some superb battle footage, in fact borrowed from a French film of 1932, Raymond Bernard's Les Croix de Bois.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Joel Sayre, William Faulkner|