Thursday, January 27, 2011

Women in the Wind (1939)



Recently I finished reading a biography on the British female aviatrix Amy Johnson called Queen of the Air. Before I read about Amy Johnson I read a fantastic biography on Amelia Earhart called East to the Dawn. Both biographies were so incredible and so inspiring. Amelia Earhart was so much more than the women who disappeared on her last flight and her solo flight across the Atlantic. She inspired women all over the world to step out of their comfort zone and what was expected of them in the time to become adventurous and daring. Amy Johnson flew across treacherous terrain and the elements to become the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia.
            Both aviatrixes pushed the limits of women’s roles in society in the late 1920s and 1930s. Each flyer earned the love of their home countries and the world endorsing products and planes and wanting to make flying more accessible to women and safer.
            My admiration for Earhart and Johnson led me to record the film Women in the Wind off of TCM a few weeks ago. Women in the Wind is not a well known film today even though it did very well for a Warner Brothers B- movie. The plot is very clichéd and from the moment of its set up you know what will happen. Kay Francis plays pilot Janet Steele. Her brother was once a famous pilot but an accident has left him paralyzed and he desperately needs an operation to save his life. She sees an ad for a race for women pilots worth $15,000.
            You can pretty much guess that Janet wins the race. There’s a not too great love story/triangle going on between Janet, a record breaking pilot named Ace and his wife Frieda who he thought he got a Mexican divorce with. Ace let Janet use his plane which was the fastest around to fly in the race but Frieda decides to take it and there is nothing Ace can do about. Janet gets a plane from someone else who has just broken a flying record.
            Women in the Wind is not a bad film especially if you like to learn about early aviation and how people hero worshipped pilots. This is not a film that is a must see but it is fun. I will say thank God this was not long it is only an hour and fifteen minutes and if it had been any longer it would have been too long. The plot with Janet and Ace was a bit bothersome to begin with. Eve Arden plays another aviatrix who is friends with Janet named Kit. Kit is the type of character I could see how a lot of the women pilots were back in the day: spunky and full of attitude.
            Women in the Wind is predictable but enjoyable. The film gives a great view into aviation at the time and how much of a novelty it once was.