MYSTERY PLANE (1939)
Article #1480 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-3-2005
Posting Date: 8-31-2005
Directed by George Waggner
Featuring John Trent, Marjorie Reynolds, Milburn Stone
A pilot invents a device that allows bombers to engage in remote-control bombing. He is then kidnapped by spies who want his information, and finds that an old flying idol of his is in cahoots with them.
My source for this movie refers to a title called SKY PIRATE, but no movies with that title matched up with the cast list in my source. After hunting around a bit, I came to the conclusion that the movie actually being referred to was MYSTERY PLANE; the cast list more or less matches, and it’s alternate title SKY PILOT bears a strong similarity to the SKY PIRATE title. The movie does have a science fiction element; namely, the remote-control bomber mechanism in the plot description. It’s a Tailspin Tommy movie, the first of four made by Monogram in the late thirties. It’s done with a fair amount of energy (courtesy of director George Waggner, who would go on to direct THE WOLF MAN), and the human element (with a down-on-his-luck former pilot) is also handled well. There are a few dead spots, and at times certain of the characters verge on the annoying, but these are fairly mild quibbles for what is a fine example of poverty-row film-making at its most effective.