The Eagle and the Hawk, Paramount Pictures, 1933
Directed by Stuart Walker
Starring Cary Grant, Fredric March, Carol Lombard, and Jack Oakie
Although less well known than Wings, The Dawn Patrol, and Hell’s Angels, The Eagle and the Hawk was one of the best World War I dramas of the 1930s. Based on an original story by John Monk Saunders, who also wrote the original story for Wings, The Eagle and the Hawk focuses on the psychological aspects of wartime aerial combat. It explores the cumulative effects on pilots and crews who fought in the skies during World War I, rather than on the romanticized heroic exploits of fighter pilots.
As was typical for these early WWI aviation films, a large group of wartime and contemporary aircraft were assembled to film the flying scenes. However, in the case of The Eagle and the Hawk, newly shot aerial combat footage was deftly blended with flying scenes from previous Paramount productions Wings and Young Eagles, and First National’s The Dawn Patrol, to shorten production time and reduce costs. The aircraft used in The Eagle and the Hawk were carefully painted and positioned to match up with the footage from the earlier films.
The Eagle and the Hawk opened in May 1933 to excellent reviews and praise for its cast, which included Hollywood heavyweights Cary Grant, Fredric March, and Carol Lombard. Although Stuart Walker was given screen credit as the director of the movie, assistant director Mitchell Leisen handled most of the film’s direction. In addition to having more filmmaking experience than Walker, Leisen was a licensed pilot, which contributed to the realism of the movie.
The Eagle and the Hawk is a wonderful complement to the three famous WWI aviation classics previously shown in the Museum’s film series. Your knowledge of the pioneering movies in the aviation film genre is not complete without viewing The Eagle and the Hawk.
The Eagle and the Hawk will be shown at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia on June 16. Request free tickets for the screenings. Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen is a year-long film series showing Hollywood’s finest feature films on World War I, and is part of the National Air and Space Museum’s observance of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War.