The Aviator
The Aviator 1929 Poster.jpg
lobby card
Directed byRoy Del Ruth
Written byArthur Caesar
Robert Lord
De Leon Anthony (titles)
Based onThe Aviator (play) by James Montgomery
Produced byIrving Asher
StarringEdward Everett Horton
Patsy Ruth Miller
CinematographyChick McGill (aka Barney McGill)
Edited byWilliam Holmes
Music byRex Dunn (uncredited)
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • December 14, 1929 (1929-12-14)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Aviator is a 1929 American Pre-Code Vitaphone comedy film produced and released by Warner Bros. Directed by Roy Del Ruth, the film was based on the play of the same name by James Montgomery and stars Edward Everett Horton and Patsy Ruth Miller. The Aviator is similar to the silent comedy The Hottentot (1922), where a hapless individual has to pretend to be a famous steeplehorse jockey. The Aviator today is considered a lost film.[1]


Brooks (William Norton Bailey), a publisher and his publicist (Lee Moran) decide to boost the sales of a wartime book of flying experiences. They credit the book to popular author Robert Street (Edward Everett Horton), who is completely ignorant about aviation. Robert gets into all sorts of trouble in attempting to carry on the ruse, saving his friend's business but also attracting the attention of aviation-mad Grace Douglas (Patsy Ruth Miller). At first, he is able to carry out simple publicity events, but when he accidentally starts up an aircraft, his incredible aerobatics end with a landing in a haystack. When a race is staged between him and French ace Major Jules Gaillard (Armand Kaliz), it ends with Robert confessing he is no pilot, but still winning Grace's heart.


Parisian-born Armand Kaliz as Major Jules Gaillard.
Parisian-born Armand Kaliz as Major Jules Gaillard.


The Aviator appeared at a time when aviation films were extremely popular, with only western films being made in larger numbers. It was typical to even have aircraft show up in a western. Blending comedy in The Aviator with aerial thrills seemed to be an ideal way to satisfy the public's appetite for aviation subjects.[2]


The Aviator was well received as both a comedy and an aviation film. Hal Erickson wrote, "The ensuing wild ride through the air is the best part of the picture, with Robert trying to maintain his equilibrium and dignity throughout."[3]

The film was remade in 1930 as Going Wild, starring Joe E. Brown. A foreign-language version in French was made in 1931 and was entitled L'aviateur. In 1938, eight years after Going Wild, Warner Bros. remade this movie again as a musical titled Going Places, starring Dick Powell (impersonating a famous horseman), with Ronald Reagan appearing in an early role.


No film elements of The Aviator are known to survive. The soundtrack, which was recorded on Vitaphone disks, may survive in private hands.[4]

On February 13, 1956, Jack Warner sold the rights to all of his pre-1950 films to Associated Artists Productions.[5] It does not appear to have been shown on television or reissued.

See also



  1. ^ "The Aviator",; retrieved September 19, 2014.
  2. ^ Wynne 1987, p. 85.
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal. "The Aviator: Synopsis."[permanent dead link] Retrieved: September 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "The Aviator (1929)." SilentEra. Retrieved: September 19, 2014.
  5. ^ 1957 MOVIES FROM AAP Warner Bros Features & Cartoons SALES BOOK DIRECTED AT TV