Sky Racket (February 11, 1937)
Released on October 1, 1937: A girl running away from her wedding day gets mixed up with a G-man investigating gangsters who can shoot down airplanes with a death ray.
Directed by Sam Katzman
Written by Basil Dickey.
The Actors: Bruce Bennett (Eric Lane, G-man 17), Joan Barclay (Marion Bronson), Monte Blue (Benjamin Arnold), Hattie McDaniel (Jenny), Henry Roquemore (Roger Bronson), Duncan Renaldo (Count Barksi), Jack Mulhall (henchman Meggs), Roger Williams (henchman Nick Reagan), Edward Earle (FBI Chief Maddox), Earl Hodgins (henchman Spike Hodgins), Frank Wayne (henchman Pete), Ed Cassidy (FBI Agent Wilks), Budd Buster (yard man), Richard Cramer (detective in car chase), Tom London (detective in car chase), Broderick O'Farrell (minister), Fred Parker (violin player), Donna Mae Roberts (wedding guest), Sheila Terry (wedding guest), Robert Walker (wedding guest), Lois Wilde (Sugar), Charles Williams (night club comedian).
Today we bitch and moan about going through airport security before boarding an airplane, but things were very different when I was a kid. Airplanes were sexy and adventurous and things of wonder. On television an amazing modern cowboy took to the air every Saturday morning, riding an airplane instead of a horse. I can still remember as a kid asking for and getting a balsa wood airplane to play with. I eagerly put the parts together, and carefully stretched the enclosed rubber band from the little hook on the plastic propellor back to the small notch at the rear of the tiny plane. Then I would wind that propellor until the rubber band was twisted almost to the breaking point, aim it at the sky and watch with eager excitement as it flew into the air away from me until the propellor stopped turning and it fell gently back to earth. The only thing that could be as exciting to a young boy would be a good science fiction story, bringing strange new wonders to my young but inquisitive mind. This movie has that, and more.
A pretty young lady millionaire is running away from her arranged marriage just before the wedding music starts. She runs to the local airport where she goes onto the field and climbs into an airplane to hide from her father and fiancé who are chasing her. Ahh, but the plane she hides in is a special plane, destined for destruction. It seems that there is a gangster who has a machine that is a ray of death - this machine can be aimed at an airplane in flight and cause it to crash. Several air mail planes have been shot down, and the mail robbed. You see, back in the day, people were not cautioned about identity theft, or strange e-mails from Nigeria that might entice us to hand over our banking information. No, back in the day people were cautioned against sending cash through the mail. If you wanted to send money to someone far away, you probably didn't have a checking account, and you surely couldn't 'paypal' the money to someone. What you did was to put your cash in an envelope and mail it to the person that needed the money. If you wanted to order something from the big Sears and Roebuck catalog or the J.C. Penny catalog you tucked your bills in an envelope along with the order page from the catalog and sent it on its way. But it was dangerous - what if someone stole the mail and opened all the envelopes in search of those envelopes that had cash in them? That is exactly what these crooks were doing. Anyway . . . back to our story. G-man number 17, Eric Lane, was going to fly an airmail plane over the route of disaster and try to find out the cause of the mysterious crashes, and catch the crooks that were stealing the mail bags. And you guessed it, that is the plane that our runaway bride has hidden in. The action is fast-paced right from the git-go, and before you can even finish your bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn, you will be fighting the crooks along with agent 17 and the pretty millionaire bride right down to the inevitable happy ending.