Saturday, July 24, 2021
Fly-Away Baby (1937)
A jeweller has been murdered, and $250,000 worth of diamonds have been stolen. Lieutenant Steve McBride (Barton MacLane) figures it was a professional jewel heist. His reporter girlfriend Torchy has the idea that maybe Lucien "Sonny" Croy (Gordon Oliver) is the real culprit. Croy is a reporter as well, of sorts. Actually his father owns a newspaper and has put him to work much against his will. Croy has a motive for the murder but he also has an alibi.
Croy has come up with a publicity stunt for his paper - an attempt to set a record for circumnavigating the globe by commercial air services.
There actually turns out to be a fourth unofficial racer. Gahagan (Tom Kennedy), McBride’s police driver, has resigned from the force to take up a new career as a private detective. Gahagan is the Torchy Blane series’ regular comic relief character and his presence is entirely irrelevant and fails to provide anything more than very mild amusement.
Aviation buffs will enjoy seeing lots of (stock footage) shots of DC-3s and Pan Am Clipper flying boats and they will get even more of a buzz from the climax on board a zeppelin. I’ve long maintained that no movie that features zeppelins can ever be considered a total failure.
In Frederick Nebel’s original stories McBride (actually it was MacBride in Nebel’s stories) was the hero and he had a boozy male reporter sidekick named Kennedy. Turning the sidekick into an attractive woman and making her the lead character was a pretty shrewd move on the part of the producers of the movie series.
The race-around-the-world idea is a bit lame. How is it a race if all three contestants take the same scheduled commercial flights? That angle really needed a bit more work.
The Warner Archive Torchy Blane DVD set includes all nine films. Fly-Away Baby gets a very good transfer. Image and sound quality are fine.
Fly-Away Baby is a bit disappointing after the first film in the series, Smart Blonde, but Farrell and MacLane are so good that they manage to carry it off and it’s kinda fun. Recommended.