Tailspin Tommy in Mystery Plane (March 8, 1939)
Released on March 8, 1939: Tailspin Tommy invents a new revolutionary bomb sight that enemy agents desperately wish to steal.
Directed by George Waggner
Written by Paul Schofield, George Waggner and Hal Forrest.
The Actors: John Trent (Tailspin Tommy Tompkins), Marjorie Reynolds (Betty Lou Barnes), Jason Robards Sr. (Paul Smith), George Lynn ('Brandy' Rand), Lucien Littlefield (Winslow), Polly Ann Young (Anita), Tommy Bupp (Tommy Tomkins as a boy), Betsy Gay (Dr. Harrison), William P. Carleton (Navy Commander), John Elliott (Army Colonel), John S. Peters (henchman Carl), Sayre Dearing (henchman Fred), Bruce Mitchell (Detective Captain Walker), Mickey Martin (young boy), Jerry Jerome (henchman Joe), Pat Gleason (Detective), Cyril Ring (henchman), Arthur Thalasso (Detective).
Imagination is the highest kite that one can fly.
- LAUREN BACALL
Do kids today have imagination? Do they day-dream about things that we know are impossible? I know that I still dream about things that you would probably label as very foolish. But they are my dreams, and I'm sticking with them! One of the greatest things a person should practice, enjoy and perfect is the ability to 'day-dream' or imagine. Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." Einstein also said, "Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." Robert Kennedy said, "Some men see things as they are and say "why." I dream things that never were and say "why not." When I was a little boy my imagination took me to places far beyond what my poverty background provided, and I've never stopped imagining that I could do or be just about anything that I really desired. I didn't get to watch many movies like this one as a child, but I did have the newspaper comics every day, and my dad directed me to some good science fiction/fantasy/adventure books from his childhood like Tom Swift. My dad had a younger sister named Dorothy, and they would often sit at the kitchen table in the evening and read a book together, waiting for each other to finish the page before turning it.
In this amazing adventure daring pilot Tailspin Tommy as a young boy saves the life of his WWI hero pilot 'Brandy' Rand, and then Tommy grows up to become a skilled airplane pilot like his hero Brandy. As an adult Tailspin Tommy and his friends invent a new system for bombing a target accurately from a high altitude plane. It is 1939 and although the U.S. has not entered the war in Europe yet, military advances are on the minds of many Americans. It seems unfamiliar to us today to think that a couple of people in a rural area could imagine and create something that would change the future of flight. Today we are trained to believe that scientific advances can only be made in high-tech labs funded with billions of dollars and staffed with the brightest minds from the most prodigious universities. Young men and women tinkering with everyday machines and knowledge could never imagine and create anything new and revolutionary. Hogwash I say . . . hogwash! Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and watch Tailspin Tommy and imagine that you also can do, be or create anything at all . . . even something that has never ever existed - except in your fertile imagination.
Note: I have learned that in 1941 the German war machine created a targeting system based on the premise of this movie and used it to bomb British cities. When they discovered the methods that were being used, the ingenious Britons turned on all of their radar-wave creating medical machines in their hospitals to befuddle and jam the German targeting system.
Marjorie Reynolds, Milburn Stone and John Trent
Betsy Gay as the young Betty Lou Barnes
George Lynn as WWI Flying Ace Brandy Rand
Jason Robards Sr. as Paul Smith, Three Points airport owner
John S. Peters
John Trent and Jason Robards Sr.
John Trent, John S. Peters and Lucien Littlefield
John Trent, Milburn Stone and Lucien Littlefield
John Trent and Milburn Stone
John Trent as Tailspin Tommy in Mystery Plane
John Trent in 1939
Lucien Littlefield and George Lynn try to shoot down Tailspin Tommy
Lucien Littlefield, Polly Ann Young and George Lynn watch the bombing experimental test flight
Lucien Littlefieid as Winslow in Mystery Plane
Marjorie Reynolds title card in Mystery Plane
Milburn Stone and Marjorie Reynolds
Milburn Stone in Mystery Plane
Milburn Stone title card in Mystery Plane
Peter George Lynn title card in Mystery Plane
Polly Ann Young as Anita in Mystery Plane
Tommy Bupp and George Lynn in Mystery Plane
Tommy Bupp as Tailspin Tommy when he was a young boy
William P. Carleton, John Elliott and Jason Robards Sr. watch the bombing test flight from a safe distance away.