Friday, July 12, 2013


AIR HOSTESS was a movie about a stewardess. The stewardess was Evalyn Knapp, but Thelma Todd was involved in the proceedings as the "other woman" in the story.

Air Hostess (1933 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Air Hostess
Air Hostess poster.jpg
Directed byAlbert S. Rogell
Written byMilton Raison (adaptation)
Screenplay byMilton Raison
Keene Thompson
Story byGrace Perkins (uncredited)
StarringEvalyn Knapp
James Murray
Arthur Pierson
CinematographyJoseph Walker
Elmer Dyer (aerial scenes)
Editing byRichard Cahoon
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • January 15, 1933 (1933-01-15) (United States)
Running time67 min.
CountryUnited States
Air Hostess is a 1933 American aviation-themed melodrama film based on a serial published in a 1919 True Story Magazine article called "Air Hostess," by Grace Perkins, a pseudonym of Dora Macy.[N 1] Director Albert Rogell who had moved from shorts to B-films, had been interested in aviation having already helmed a similar feature, The Flying Marine (1929). In Air Hostess, the studio had attempted to merge flying and romance. Advertising stressed, "A date in the skies ... a rendezvous in the heavens...where love zooms with thrill after thrill ... but finds a happy landing!"[2] [3][4]
Evalyn Knapp plays a TWA air hostess attracted to a grandstanding pilot, despite the better advice of the blind mechanic and other employees who watch over her. (In reality, TWA did not initiate the use of air hostesses until 1935, when the Douglas DC-2 was introduced.[4]) Knapp was being touted as a future star, with a starring role in Sinner's Holiday (1930), but eventually lost her A-status and was relegated to more B-fare such as Air Hostess.
James Murray appears here five years after his triumph in The Crowd. Another notorious drinker and former baseball star Mike Donlin appears as "Mike", a few months before his fatal heart attack. [N 2]


In World War I, pilot Bob King is shot and killed in France. His friends Ted "Lucky" Hunter (James Murray) and Pa Kearns (J.M. Kerrigan) pledge to look after his daughter, Kitty (Evalyn Knapp).[N 3] Years later, after the war, Kearns, now blind, works at an airport as an engine expert while Kitty is a TWA stewardess. Her father's friends still look after her as meddling chaperones.
A grandstanding Ted flies over the airport, meeting Kitty who is enamored with him. After a night on the town, he flies her back to the airport, but is met by angry mechanics and pilot Dick Miller (Arthur Pierson), who is in love with Kitty and ends up in a fight.
Ted soon announces his marriage to Kitty and forces her to quit her job. Dick gets her her job back when Ted is unable to make a living. Rich, three-time divorcee Sylvia Carleton (Thelma Todd) offers Ted a chance to build a radical new aircraft that can fly across the Pacific. A tête-à-tête between Ted and Sylvia in Albuquerque turns into a fiasco when Kitty and Dick arrive to find them both drunk.
Kitty leaves angrily for home, boarding a train that Ted and Dick learn is headed for a collapsing bridge. Both men try to save Kitty by flying to warn the engineer. Ted crash-lands on the tracks and wrecks his aircraft, but stops the train in time. Dick flies him back to the hospital with Kitty, as the couple reunites.


As appearing in Air Hostess, (main roles and screen credits identified):[5]

Transcontinental-Western Airlines Ford 5-AT-B Trimotor (NC9607) was extensively featured in the film. On August 29, 1933, the Trimotor was destroyed at Quay, New Mexico, in an accident that killed all five on board.[6]


The film was shot primarily at the Glendale Grand Central Air Terminal and airport, as well as at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Aerial scenes in Air Hostess were reprised from earlier films. [7] In 1933, the film industry became more safety-conscious, with screen air crashes largely replaced by the use of appropriate scenes clipped from earlier epics such as Wings (1927), Hell's Angels (1930) and The Dawn Patrol (1930).[8]
Aircraft used in the film include:


Considered along with other aviation films of the era, Air Hostess is a modest, B-film but has some redeeming qualities that have stood the film well over the years. A contemporary review in The New York Times noted: "... is pleasantly acted by James Murray, Arthur Pierson and Evalyn Knapp. Thelma Todd interprets the seductive blonde so heavily as to flavor the whole picture with a tinge of burlesque. Some of the air sequences have their moments of excitement, but Air Hostess needs more than airplanes to conceal the antiquity of its plot."[9] In reviewing Air Hostess in a historical sense, the extensive use of the aircraft of the period now provides a near-documentary look at North American civil aviation in 1933. [2]



  1. ^ The article also appeared in the October 1932–February 1933 issue.[1]
  2. ^ All of the lead actors encountered various misfortunes with Murray noticeably beginning a slow descent into alcoholism. With leading screen roles becoming scarce, he became a derelict and three years later, mysteriously drowned. Thelma Todd met a similar unexplained fate, found dead in her garage in 1935 at age 30.[2]
  3. ^ Characters also refer to Pa Kearns as "Pop" and "Popa Kearny".
  4. ^ Although listed as Ma Kearns in the film credits, a sign at the airport advertises "Ma Kearny's Special Steak Dinner".


  1. ^ "Screenplay info: Air Hostess." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 19, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Air Hostess (1933)." IMDb. Retrieved: March 19, 2013.
  3. ^ "Notes: Air Hostess". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 19, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Santoir, Christian. "Air Hostess" (in French)., February 9, 2013. Retrieved: March 19, 2013.
  5. ^ "Credits: Air Hostess (1933)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 19, 2013.
  6. ^ "Accident Report: Ford 5-AT-B Tri-Motor." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved: March 19, 2013.
  7. ^ Wynne 1987, p. 171.
  8. ^ Farmer 1984, p. 4.
  9. ^ "Movie Review:Air Hostess (1933), An Air Melodrama." The New York Times, January 23, 1933.


  • Farmer, James H. Broken Wings: Hollywood's Air Crashes. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Pub Co., 1984. ISBN 978-9-999926-515.
  • Hardwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies". The Making of the Great Aviation Films, General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
  • Wynne, Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots & Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing, 1987. ISBN 0-933126-85-9.

External links

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Evalyn Knapp, the "Air Hostess" in this story, had an airplane pilot brother who was named after Orville Wright*. Orville Knapp was a well-known orchestra conductor in the thirties who eventually died in an airplane crash.

At the time that this movie was made, Columbia was still considered to be a "poverty row" studio. They wouldn't become a major studio until the success of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in 1934. In 1933, Clark Gable was working at MGM, as were the Three Stooges. Their long-running series at Columbia would not begin until 1934.

There was a great deal of interest in aviation in the thirties. The exploits of famous flyers such as Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart seemed to be constantly in the news. Travel by air was becoming more popular, and a new type of glamour girl had appeared on the scene, the "Air Hostess".

The movie AIR HOSTESS was based on a story of the same name by Dora Macy, serialized in TRUE STORY magazine from October 1932 to February 1933. (Columbia had the movie out on January 15, 1933, just in time for the final installment of the serial to appear in print ).

James Murray and Evelyn Knapp seem to have been well liked for their parts in this film. Some reviewers seemed to think that Thelma Todd handled her role almost as if it was a comedy instead of a serious dramatic picture; somebody else said that seeing Thelma Todd made them almost expect to see Laurel and Hardy or the Marx Brothers show up next, so it's possible that type of thinking had also influenced other reviewers.

David Bordwell at liked the camera work in this movie and posted film frame enlargements from this picture.

                                                           Here an airplane engine

dissolves into a roulette wheel,

linking the daredevil pilot's flying to his gambling and his general tendency to take risks.
A tracking shot taken through a walkway that is wheeled up to the plane early in the film.

Through which the passengers leave the plane.

Some of the early all-metal aircraft had corrugated metal skin,
something that went back to the early Junkers designs of the first World War. The Junkers 52 that was used as an airliner in the thirties had corrugated metal skin, too.
The next to the last shot in the movie  shows James Murray and Evelyn Knapp in an unusual shot framed by the plane's controls.

Many B movies in this period were technically well made in spite of their budgets. AIR HOSTESS appears to have been one that was.

                                          You see Thelma Todd prominently featured on the posters.


The trimotor configuration was common on airliners in this period, the type being dropped for military reasons during the years leading up to the second World War.

An original program from the Roxy Theater in New York.


Columbia would release a cartoon with the title THE AIR HOSTESS in 1937

And another live action film with the title AIR HOSTESS in 1949,

neither of which was a remake. Among the cast in the 1949 movie was Ann Doran, who had been one of Charley Chase's leading ladies at Columbia.

Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly played airline stewardesses in another film.

Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly as stewardesses

The story involves a new escape apparatus which has been installed on their airliner. In this scene we see the new device being explained.
Same type of trimotor airliner, possibly even some of the same stock footage as in the other movie.

A similar shot of a motor running, 

 but without the roulette wheel. Is there any gambling in this story?
Testing new equiptment could involve a certain amount of risk, but in this story the new escape apparatus works as planned.
 Or at least it works. They hadn't really planned on leaving the plane.

And finally, here is a real-life air hostess from 1933.

I think she's cute.

* The Wright brothers - Wilbur and Orville - had invented the airplane.


Air Hostesses:,0,327510.photogallery

Evalyn Knapp:

James Murray:


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