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China Clipper (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

China Clipper
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRay Enright
Written byNorman Reilly Raine (add'l dialogue, uncredited)
Screenplay byFrank Wead
Produced bySamuel Bischoff
StarringPat O'Brien
Ross Alexander
Beverly Roberts
CinematographyArthur Edeson
Edited byOwen Marks
Music byBernhard Kaun
Heinz Roemheld
Distributed byWarner Brothers
Release date
  • August 22, 1936 (1936-08-22)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States

China Clipper is a 1936 American drama film directed by Ray Enright, written by Frank Wead and starring Pat O'Brien, Ross Alexander, Beverly Roberts, Humphrey Bogart and, in his final motion-picture appearance, veteran actor Henry B. Walthall.[1] Walthall was gravely ill during production and his illness was incorporated into his character's role. He died during production.[2]

The film was produced by First National Pictures and distributed by its parent company Warner Bros.

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  • China Clipper (1936) Official Trailer - Humphrey Bogart, Pat O'Brien Movie HD
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  • Original Theatrical Trailer | China Clipper | Warner Archive



In the mid-1930s, Dave Logan is struggling to build and fly a new ocean-going flying boat with the goal of reaching China from San Francisco. His wife Jean and his boss Jim Horn try to discourage him, but he enlists his World War I pilot buddy Tom Collins and aircraft designer "Dad" Brunn, to start an airline flying between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Undeterred when the airline fails, the group start a second airline in Key West, Florida to deliver mail throughout the Caribbean. Another pilot friend, Hap Stuart, joins as the airline begins to prosper. Logan becomes more obsessed, making life difficult for all around him, including his wife and best friends. Jean and Hap quit but return on the eve of an important proving flight.

The new China Clipper is the last project for Dad, who succumbs to heart disease shortly after the takeoff. When the China Clipper encounters a severe Typhoon off the China coast, Logan decides he must cancel the history-making flight, but Hap lands the big flying boat safely with several minutes to spare, winning a most important aviation contract. This secures the future for Dave Logan's vision of the first worldwide international airline.



Martin M-130 China Clipper

Screenwriter Frank "Spig" Wead wrote the film as a thinly disguised biography of aviation pioneer Juan Trippe, especially Trippe's life around the period of the founding of Pan American Airways.[4] Filmed with the cooperation of Pan Am, actual newsreel and production footage of the Martin M-130 is used throughout the film to emphasize the story just as it was happening for Trippe in real life.[5] Aviation film historian Mark Carlson described China Clipper as a "veiled advertisement for what was once one of the greatest airlines in the world."[6]

The flying sequences in China Clipper were filmed with famed Hollywood stunt pilot Paul Mantz, who worked with veterans Elmer Dyer and H. F. Koenekamp to create realistic aerial photography.[2] Some scenes depict the aircraft flying over the incomplete San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge while it was still under construction.[7]

The aircraft used in China Clipper are:


Despite Warner Bros.' typical casting and plot, China Clipper was well received, as its packaging did not detract from the timely account of a transpacific flight. In his review for The New York Times, Frank S. Nugent commented: "A fascinating and surprisingly literal dramatization of the China Clipper's transpacific flight of last November, the picture deserves a respectful accolade both for its technical accuracy and for its rather astonishing refusal to describe the flying boat's journey in the stock terms of aerial melodrama."[9] [N 1]



  1. ^ A line from China Clipper that is spoken several times, "China Clipper calling Alameda," is repeated by Davy Jones in The Monkees' spoken-word song "Zilch," from their 1967 album Headquarters.


  1. ^ Halliwell 1989, p. 186.
  2. ^ a b "Notes: 'China Clipper' (1936)." Turner Classic Movies, 2019. Retrieved: August 11, 2019.
  3. ^ McCarty, Clifford (1965). Bogey - The Films of Humphrey Bogart. Cadillac Publishing Co., Inc.
  4. ^ Tatara, Paul. "Articles: 'China Clipper' (1936)." Turner Classic Movies, 2019. Retrieved: August 11, 2019.
  5. ^ Yenne 2003, p. 82.
  6. ^ Carlson 2012, p. 191.
  7. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1931-1940. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-52007-908-3
  8. ^ Santoir, Christian. "Review: 'China Clipper' (1936)." Aeromovies, November 30, 2013. Retrieved: August 11, 2019.
  9. ^ Nugent, Frank S. China Clipper (1936) "The screen: Warners' 'China Clipper' at Strand documents dramatic story of a transpacific flight." The New York Times, August 12, 1936.


  • Carlson, Mark. Flying on Film: A Century of Aviation in the Movies, 1912–2012. Duncan, Oklahoma: BearManor Media, 2012. ISBN 978-1-59393-219-0.
  • Halliwell, Leslie. Leslie Halliwell's Film Guide. New York: Harper & Roe, 1989. ISBN 978-0-06016-322-8.
  • Yenne, Bill. Seaplanes & Flying Boats: A Timeless Collection from Aviation's Golden Age. New York: BCL Press, 2003. ISBN 1-932302-03-4.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 June 2024, at 06:19
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