The Legion of the Condemned

Last updated

The Legion of the Condemned
The Legion of the Condemned 1928 Poster.jpg
Directed by William A. Wellman
Written by
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyHenry W. Gerrard
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 1928 (1928-03-10)(USA)
Running time
74 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish intertitles
Budget$295,000 (est.)

The Legion of the Condemned (aka Legion of the Condemned) is a 1928 American silent film directed by William A. Wellman and produced by Jesse L. Lasky, Wellman, and Adolph Zukor and distributed by Paramount Pictures. [1] [2] Written by former World War I flight instructor John Monk Saunders and Jean de Limur, with intertitles by George Marion, Jr., the film stars Fay Wray and Gary Cooper. [3]

Contents

Plot

In World War I, four young men from various walks of life sign up as flyers for the Lafayette Escadrille, a military unit known as "The Legion of the Condemned". The unit is composed mostly of American volunteer pilots flying fighter aircraft. All four men are running away from something: the law, love, or themselves. Whenever a dangerous mission comes up, the four men draw cards to see who will fly off to near-certain doom. With his best friend Byron Dashwood (Barry Norton) already having died in combat, Gale Price (Gary Cooper) draws the high card next time around.

As he prepares to drop a spy behind enemy lines, Gale remembers the events leading up to this moment - recounting his ill-fated romance with Christine Charteris (Fay Wray), whom he now believes to be a German spy. As he approaches his aircraft, Gale discovers that his passenger is Christine, who is actually an operative in the French secret service. Before she can explain her true identity, Gale is obliged to fly Christine to her rendezvous point.

Both young people are captured with Christine sentenced to be executed as a spy. Just before they go to the firing squad, a bombing raid takes place. Afterward, they are rescued by their unit and reconciled. [3]

Cast

Production

Fay Wray and Gary Cooper in The Legion of the Condemned (1928) Wray Cooper phot428.jpg
Fay Wray and Gary Cooper in The Legion of the Condemned (1928)

Fresh from their successful collaboration on Wings (1927), Saunders and Wellman embarked on a similar story, suggested by Wellman. [4] Myron Selznick, who acted as both a talent agent and his promotor, advised Wellman to pursue Paramount Pictures and ensure his future as a director with this film. [5] [Note 1]

Wellman utilized footage from the earlier "mountain" of unused film footage of aerial scenes in Wings, but new sequences were also shot at the Griffith Park Airport. [2] Production began on October 27, 1927 with principal photography completed a month later. [6] A small "air force" was assembled, using some of the same aircraft that had appeared in Wings including three DH.4s, two Fokker D.VIIs, a Thomas-Morse MB-3 and SPAD S.VII. [7] [Note 2]

While in production, studio management had second thoughts about recycling so much of the earlier footage, and had Wellman remove some of the scenes from Wings. [8]

Reception

Notable as the first film to star Gary Cooper, who had a secondary role in Wings, The Legion of the Condemned received mixed reviews from critics. [9] Mordaunt Hall, writing in The New York Times , noted: "William A. Wellman and John Monk Saunders, the two young men who were responsible for that significant production, 'Wings,' have contributed to the screen another melodrama of the warriors of the clouds. This new feature, 'The Legion of the Condemned,' has an excellent underlying motive, but in endeavoring to give love its place on the battlefield, the producer and the author have not exactly neglected opportunities for pictorial license. The suspense is piled on in the last chapter; but, judging by the demonstrative approval of the audience at one juncture, this was more than moderately successful." [10]

Preservation status

No copies of The Legion of the Condemned are known to have survived, and it is now considered a lost film. [11] [12] [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Fay Wray American actress (1907–2004)

Vina Fay Wray was a Canadian/American actress best remembered for starring as Ann Darrow in the 1933 film King Kong. Through an acting career that spanned nearly six decades, Wray attained international recognition as an actress in horror films. She has been dubbed one of the early "scream queens".

<i>Wings</i> (1927 film) 1927 film

Wings is a 1927 and 1929 American silent war film set during World War I, produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman, released by Paramount Pictures, and starring Clara Bow, Charles Rogers and Richard Arlen. It won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. Gary Cooper appears in a small role which helped launch his career in Hollywood.

William A. Wellman American director, actor

William Augustus Wellman was an American film director known for his work in crime, adventure, and action genre films, often focusing on aviation themes, a particular passion. He also directed several well-regarded satirical comedies. Beginning his film career as an actor, he went on to direct over 80 films, at times co-credited as producer and consultant. In 1927, Wellman directed Wings, which became the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture at the 1st Academy Awards ceremony.

Lane Chandler American actor (1899–1972)

Lane Chandler was an American actor specializing mainly in Westerns.

<i>Central Airport</i> (film) 1933 film

Central Airport is a 1933 American pre-Code aviation drama film directed by William A. Wellman, based on the John C. "Jack" Moffitt story, "Hawk's Mate". The film stars Richard Barthelmess and Sally Eilers. Central Airport was produced and released by Warner Bros., on April 15, 1933. John Wayne had an uncredited part in the film, playing a co-pilot, and this film features his first on-screen death.

<i>The Eagle and the Hawk</i> (1933 film) 1933 film by Stuart Walker

The Eagle and the Hawk is a 1933 American Pre-Code aerial war film set in World War I. It was directed by Stuart Walker and Mitchell Leisen and was based on an original story by John Monk Saunders. The film stars Fredric March and Cary Grant as Royal Flying Corps fighter pilots. The supporting cast includes Carole Lombard, Jack Oakie, and Sir Guy Standing.

John Monk Saunders was an American novelist, screenwriter, and film director.

<i>Lafayette Escadrille</i> (film) 1958 film by William A. Wellman

Lafayette Escadrille, also known as C'est la Guerre, Hell Bent for Glory (UK) and With You in My Arms, is a 1958 American war film produced by Warner Bros. It stars Tab Hunter and Etchika Choureau and features David Janssen and Will Hutchins, as well as Clint Eastwood, in an early supporting role. It was the final film in the career of director William A. Wellman and is based on his original story.

Gary Cooper filmography

American actor Gary Cooper started his career in 1925 as a film extra and stuntman. He made his official cinematic debut in 1926 in the Samuel Goldwyn production The Winning of Barbara Worth. He went on to become a contract player with Paramount Pictures where he established himself as a popular leading man prior to the end of the silent film era.

<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>Lilac Time</i> (film) 1928 film

Lilac Time is a 1928 American silent romantic war film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper. The film is about young American aviators fighting for Britain during World War I who are billeted in a field next to a farmhouse in France. The daughter who lives on the farm meets one of the new aviators who is attracted to her. As the flyers head off on a mission, the young aviator promises to return to her.

<i>Men with Wings</i> 1938 film by William A. Wellman

Men With Wings is a 1938 American Technicolor war film, directed by William A. Wellman and starring Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland, and Louise Campbell. Donald O'Connor also has a small part as the younger version of MacMurray's character. The two would soon star in the film Sing You Sinners together along with Bing Crosby.

<i>One Sunday Afternoon</i> 1933 film by Stephen Roberts

One Sunday Afternoon is a 1933 American pre-Code romantic drama film directed by Stephen Roberts and starring Gary Cooper and Fay Wray. Based on the 1933 Broadway play by James Hagan, the film is about a middle-aged dentist who reminisces about his unrequited love for a beautiful woman and his former friend who betrayed him and married her. This pre-Code film was released by Paramount Pictures on September 1, 1933.

<i>The Air Circus</i> 1928 film

The Air Circus is a 1928 American drama film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Arthur Lake, Sue Carol, David Rollins, and Louise Dresser. It is the first of Hawks's aviation films. The film is notable as the first aviation oriented film with dialogue.

<i>The First Kiss</i> (1928 American film) 1928 film

The First Kiss is a 1928 American silent romantic drama film directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Fay Wray and Gary Cooper. Based on the short story Four Brothers by Tristram Tupper, the film is about a Chesapeake Bay fisherman who turns to pirating in order to be rich enough to marry a society girl.

<i>Sky Devils</i> 1932 film

Sky Devils, also known as Ground Hogs, is a 1932 American Pre-Code aviation comedy film, starring Spencer Tracy as a draft dodger who blunders into a war zone.

<i>Young Eagles</i> (film) 1930 film

Young Eagles is a 1930 American pre-Code romantic drama film directed by William A. Wellman for Paramount Pictures. It stars Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Jean Arthur, and Paul Lukas. The story is based on the stories "The One Who Was Clever" and "Sky-High", written by American aviator and war hero Elliott White Springs. The film's hero is a "heroic combat aviator of the Lafayette Escadrille".

<i>Cock of the Air</i> 1932 film

Cock of the Air is a 1932 American pre-Code aviation comedy film directed by Tom Buckingham and written by Charles Lederer and Robert E. Sherwood. The film stars Chester Morris, Billie Dove, Matt Moore, Walter Catlett and Luis Alberni. Cock of the Air was released on January 23, 1932, by United Artists.

<i>The Lost Zeppelin</i> 1929 film

The Lost Zeppelin is a 1929 sound adventure film directed by Edward Sloman and produced and distributed by Tiffany-Stahl. The film stars Conway Tearle, Virginia Valli and Ricardo Cortez.

<i>Captain Swagger</i> 1928 film

Captain Swagger is a 1928 American silent crime drama film directed by Edward H. Griffith and stars Rod La Rocque. The film was produced and distributed by the Pathé Exchange company. Utilizing the RCA Photophone sound-on-film sound system, the film was rereleased in the United States with talking sequences, synchronized music, and sound effects.

References

Notes

  1. During the making of Wings, Wellman and Paramount were in a contract dispute, with the director not receiving his salary until after the film was released and his next project, The Legion of the Condemned was in production. [5]
  2. A DH.9 and two Nieuport 28s were used for some scenes. [2]

Citations

  1. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1893-1993:The Legion of the Condemned
  2. 1 2 3 Wynne 1987, p. 62.
  3. 1 2 3 "Overview: 'Legion of the Condemned' (1928)." The New York Times. Retrieved: September 14, 2012.
  4. Beck 2016, p. 135.
  5. 1 2 Pendo 1985, p. 78.
  6. Orris 2013, p. 23.
  7. Orris 2013, p. 24.
  8. "Trivia: 'Legion of the Condemned' (1928)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 18, 2017.
  9. Paris 1995, p. 40.
  10. Hall, Mordaunt. "Movie review: Warriors of the clouds." The New York Times, March 19, 1928. Retrieved: March 18, 2017.
  11. "Review: 'Legion of the Condemned'." Silent Era . Retrieved: September 9, 2012.
  12. The Legion of the Condemned at TheGreatStars.com; Lost Films Wanted(Wayback Machine)
  13. The Library of Congress/FIAF American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:The Legion of the Condemned

Bibliography

  • Beck, Simon D. The Aircraft-Spotter's Film and Television Companion. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2016. ISBN   978-1-4766-2293-4.
  • Orriss, Bruce W. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War I. Los Angeles: Aero Associates, 2013. ISBN   978-0-692-02004-3.
  • Paris, Michael. From the Wright Brothers to Top Gun: Aviation, Nationalism, and Popular Cinema. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1995. ISBN   978-0-7190-4074-0.
  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN   0-8-1081-746-2.
  • 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.