The Fighting American

Last updated

The Fighting American
The Fighting American.jpg
Directed by Tom Forman
Written by Harvey Gates
Screenplay by Raymond L. Schrock
Story byWilliam Elwell Oliver
Based onAdaptation by Raymond L. Schrock of a screen story by William Elwell Oliver
Produced by Carl Laemmle
StarringPatrick H. O'Malley, Jr.
Mary Astor
Raymond Hatton
CinematographyHarry Perry
Universal Pictures (as Universal Pictures Corporation)
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • May 26, 1924 (1924-05-26)
Running time
6 reels; 5,251 feet
Country United States
Languages Silent
English intertitles

The Fighting American (also known as The Fighting Adventurer) is a surviving 1924 American silent romantic drama film produced and distributed by Universal Pictures and directed by Tom Forman. The young Mary Astor plays a young college coed who is the object of desire in the eyes of the hero. [1]



Bill Pendleton (Patrick H. O'Malley, Jr.), son of a wealthy shipowner, goes to fight in the war as a pilot. He has trouble concentrating on his studies and as a happy-go-lucky college student adept at both flying and football, he accepts a wager from his fraternity pals that he will propose to any girl in the college they choose.

Mary O'Malley (Mary Astor) is chosen by his pals and, unaware of the wager, accepts Bill's fraternity pin. She is an old-fashioned coed who is secretly in love with him. Bill having proposed to her in earnest, is also in love. Mary, however, hears about the wager and thoroughly disgusted with Bill, leaves college and goes to China to join her missionary father (Alfred Fisher).

A remorseful Bill ends up being kicked out of college, and his father also disowns him. He decides to follow Mary to China in order to redeem himself. He stows away on the same ship that Mary is taking to China.

When the Chinese revolutionary, Fu Shing (Warner Oland), kidnaps Mary, Bill has to figure out how to save her. He enlists the help of his friend, Danny Daynes (Raymond Hatton), an alcoholic war veteran now serving as a general in the Chinese army.

In an exciting battle in the sky, Bill ends up rescuing Mary and her father from a band of revolutionaries.



The plot of The Fighting American was a romantic satire penned by William Elwell Oliver, the winner of a writing contest that Universal Studios held for college students. [2] The working title of the film was "The Throwback." [3]

A spectacular aerial stunt appeared in The Fighting American where two stuntmen fought on the wings of a Curtiss JN-4 with one stuntman falling off the wing. Instead of falling to his death, the falling stuntman doubled by former circus acrobat Russel Benton, swung in pendulum style onto the other wing tip. [4] [N 1]

Two Curtiss JN-4s flew out of Clover Field near Houston, with one acting as a camera platform flown by Frank Tomick and the other aircraft flown by Leo Nomis. [6]


The review in The New York Times considered The Fighting American as "pleasant nonsense". The review noted: "In the introductory title of "The Fighting American," the film presentation at the Broadway this week, Carl Laemmle, President of Universal Pictures Corporation, explains that the production is not one to tax the mentality of the spectators, who must look upon the narrative as nonsense." [3]

Reviewer Janiss Garza recounted in her review for, that some aerial scenes in The Fighting American were exciting. [2]


Prints of The Fighting American exist in private film collections [16mm reduction positives, 8mm reduction positives]. [7]

Related Research Articles

<i>Sky High</i> (1922 film) American silent Western film

Sky High is a 1922 American silent Western film written and directed by Lynn Reynolds and starring Tom Mix, J. Farrell MacDonald, Eva Novak and Sid Jordan. The action in Sky High takes place in 1922 and while the characters ride horses and fight in saloons, they also use telephones, automobiles and even an aircraft. In 1998, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Yakima Canutt American rodeo rider, actor and stuntman (1895–1986)

Enos Edward "Yakima" Canutt was an American champion rodeo rider, actor, stuntman, and action director. He developed many stunts for films and the techniques and technology to protect stuntmen in performing them.

Joe M. OConnell American novelist

Joe M. O'Connell is an American novelist, documentary filmmaker, short story writer, photographer and journalist based in Austin, Texas.

<i>Now Were in the Air</i> 1927 film

Now We're in the Air is a 1927 American silent comedy film directed by Frank R. Strayer, starring the late-1920s intermittent comedy team of Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton. In a supporting role, Louise Brooks plays twins, one raised French and the other raised German.

<i>The Mystery Squadron</i> 1933 American film

The Mystery Squadron is a 1933 American pre-Code 12-chapter Mascot film serial, directed by Colbert Clark and David Howard. The film was produced by Nat Levine, and stars Western star Bob Steele, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Lucile Browne, Purnell Pratt and Jack Mulhall. The Mystery Squadron made an impressive use of a great deal of aerial footage to enliven the action.

<i>Flying G-Men</i> 1939 film by Ray Taylor, James W. Horne

Flying G-Men is a 15-episode 1939 adventure film Film serial, directed by James W. Horne and Ray Taylor. The serial was the sixth of the 57 serials released by Columbia. Four "Flying G-Men" battle with enemy saboteurs intent on destroying American military defences.

Hung Yan-yan is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, stuntman and action director originally from Liuzhou, Guangxi, China. He was the stunt double for martial arts superstar Jet Li.

Cheung Wing-fat, also known as Mars, is a Hong Kong actor, action director, stuntman and martial artist. He is one of Jackie Chan's best friends.

<i>The Air Mail</i> 1925 film by Irvin Willat

The Air Mail is a 1925 American silent drama film directed by Irvin Willat and starring Warner Baxter, Billie Dove, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. It was produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed through Paramount Pictures. Filmed in Death Valley National Park and the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada, it was released in the United States on March 16, 1925.

<i>Trapped by Television</i> 1936 film by Del Lord

Trapped by Television is a 1936 American comedy-drama crime science fiction film directed by Del Lord and starring Mary Astor, Lyle Talbot and Nat Pendleton. The film is also known as Caught by Television in the United Kingdom.

<i>The Lost Squadron</i> 1932 film

The Lost Squadron is a 1932 American pre-Code drama, action, film starring Richard Dix, Mary Astor, and Robert Armstrong, with Erich von Stroheim and Joel McCrea in supporting roles, and released by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the novel The Lost Squadron (1932) by Dick Grace, the film is about three World War I pilots who find jobs after the war as Hollywood stunt fliers. The much-later The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) employed a similar theme. The Lost Squadron was the first RKO production to carry the screen credit "Executive Producer, David O. Selznick".

<i>Rookies</i> (1927 film) 1927 film by Sam Wood

Rookies is a 1927 American silent comedy film directed by Sam Wood and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film pairs the comedy teaming of Karl Dane and George K. Arthur as the stars of Rookies. Because of the popularity of this film, this would be the first of several collaborations between the two actors. The comedy team of "... gangly Karl Dane and diminutive George K. Arthur... ... Clearly conceived to cash in on the success of Paramount's Wallace Beery-Raymond Hatton service comedy Behind the Front, this Dane-Arthur vehicle finds our mismatched heroes cast as a sergeant and private during WWI."

<i>The Skywayman</i> 1920 film by James P. Hogan

The Skywayman was a 1920 American silent action drama film directed by James P. Hogan and produced and distributed by Fox Film Corporation. The film starred noted aerial stunt pilot Ormer Locklear and Louise Lovely. After having appeared in The Great Air Robbery (1919), a film that showcased his aerial talents, Locklear, considered the foremost "aviation stunt man in the world", was reluctant to return to the air show circuit. During the production, Locklear and his co-pilot Milton "Skeets" Elliot died after crashing during a night scene. The Skywayman was subsequently released shortly after, capitalizing on their deaths.

<i>The Fighting Marshal</i> 1931 film

The Fighting Marshal is a 1931 American Pre-Code Western film directed by D. Ross Lederman and starring Tim McCoy.

<i>Woman-Proof</i> 1923 film

Woman-Proof is a 1923 American silent comedy film directed by Alfred E. Green and written by Thomas J. Geraghty based upon a play by George Ade. The film stars Thomas Meighan, Lila Lee, John St. Polis, Louise Dresser, Robert Agnew, Mary Astor, and Edgar Norton. The film was released on October 28, 1923, by Paramount Pictures.

<i>Tomorrows Love</i> 1925 film

Tomorrow's Love is a 1925 American silent comedy film directed by Paul Bern, written by Charles Brackett and Howard Higgin, and starring Agnes Ayres, Patrick H. O'Malley, Jr., Raymond Hatton, Jane Winton, Ruby Lafayette, and Dale Fuller. It was released on January 5, 1925, by Paramount Pictures.

<i>The Fighting Pilot</i> 1935 film directed by Noel M. Smith

The Fighting Pilot is a 1935 American action film directed by Noel M. Smith and starring Richard Talmadge, Gertrude Messinger and Robert Frazer. When an inventor develops a new type of aircraft, a crooked businessman attempts to steals the aircraft and its blueprints. The company test pilot, who is the boyfriend of the inventor's daughter, foil the criminals.

<i>The Love Letter</i> (1923 film) 1923 film

The Love Letter is a 1923 American drama film directed by King Baggot and written by Hugh Hoffman. The film stars Gladys Walton, Fontaine La Rue, George Cooper, Edward Hearn, Walt Whitman, and Alberta Lee. The film was released on February 9, 1923, by Universal Pictures.

<i>Stunt Pilot</i> 1939 American film

Stunt Pilot is a 1939 American adventure film directed by George Waggner and written by Scott Darling and George Waggner. The film is based on the comic strip Tailspin Tommy by Hal Forrest and Glenn Chaffin. Stunt Pilot stars John Trent, Marjorie Reynolds, Milburn Stone, Jason Robards Sr., Pat O'Malley and George Meeker. Following the success of Mystery Plane (1939), Stunt Pilot, the second in the "Tailspin Tommy" series, was released on July 2, 1939, by Monogram Pictures.

<i>The Sky Spider</i> 1931 film

The Sky Spider is a 1931 American "youth-oriented" adventure film. Directed by Richard Thorpe, the film starred Glenn Tryon, Beryl Mercer, Blanche Mehaffey, Pat O'Malley and newcomer John Trent.



  1. The stunt was accomplished by having wires tied to the stuntman's ankles and the aircraft landing gear, allowing a pendulum swing below the aircraft. [5]


  1. "Catalog: 'The Fighting American'. 'The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1921-30. Los Angeles: The American Film Institute, c. 1971.
  2. 1 2 Garza, Janiss. "Review: The Fighting American." Allmovie, 2019. Retrieved: September 2, 2019.
  3. 1 2 ""Review: Pleasant nonsense." The New York Times, May 13, 1924.
  4. Wynne 1987, p. 36.
  5. Wynne 1987, p. 37.
  6. Santoir, Christian. "Review: The Fighting American." Aeromovies, July 29, 2010. Retrieved: September 2, 2019.
  7. Progressive Silent Film List: The Fighting American., 2019. Retrieved: September 2, 2019.


  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN   0-933126-85-9.