The Dawn Patrol

Synopsis: In 1915 France, Major Brand commands the 39th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. The young airmen go up in bullet-riddled "crates" and the casualty rate is appalling, but Brand can't make the "brass hats" at headquarters see reason. Insubordinate air ace Captain Courtney is another thorn in Brand's side...but finds the smile wiped from his face when he rises to command the squadron himself. Everyone keeps a stiff upper lip.
Genre: Drama, War
Director(s): Edmund Goulding
Production: Warner Bros.
103 min

I'd like to make a bonfire

of the whole blinking lot of them.

That's all they're good for.

Now, not even that.

They've been shot up so much they ain't

worth the blinking petrol to set them afire.

Hold on, my lad. That's the king's property

you're talking about.

- I know, sergeant, but look--

- I've looked. So has everybody else.

- What about it?

- Well, what about it?

Don't muck it.

Mend it and shut your mouth.

What about A Flight?

There's the major still stargazing.

That's what about it.

Headquarters, sir.

- Hello. 59th Squadron.

- Hello, Brand?

- Yes, this is Brand.

- What is the delay?

- Has A Flight returned yet?

- No, A Flight is not back yet.

They should be back before no w.

You send them out on a job

and expect them back in no time at all.

- What?

- Can you hear me?

- We have a bad connection.

- Yes, yes, yes. I can hear you.

Next time we'll get someone else.

We can't depend on you.

Oh, you'll get others to do it next time?

That'll be splendid.

- You do not seem to be giving cooperation.

- Yes, sir.

- After all, this is a war.

- We've done every job you dig up for us.

If our men can't do it, who can?

They're the finest in France--

If necessary, we'll transfer you

to a less important position.

Perhaps you can be taught

to obey orders as they are given.

- Right.

- Is that clear?

Right, sir.

- Here.

- Yes, sir.

- Officious, overdressed brass hat.

- He thinks the 59th can't do it, huh?

The 59th can do anything

he can think up.

You know what this place is?

It's a slaughterhouse and I'm the butcher.

No use calling your names, Brand.

- Duty is something you learn--

- Duty?

Do you realize how many men we've lost

this last fortnight? Do you?

- Yes.

- Sixteen.

- More than a man a day.

- Yes.

And here's A Flight

out on another rotten show.

Seven fine boys. Three of them

first time out, first time over the lines.

If half of them get back, we'll be lucky.

It is a rotten job, Brand,

but you mustn't let it get you.

They just got to say,

"Bombers after a bridge.

Go up and protect them."

You say, "Fine. Right. Cheerio."

You send up planes that have been shot

to pieces, stuck together with spit and glue.

Do our boys argue? Do they complain?

Never. They just say, "Right." And go up.

- And go up and do it.

- They do.

Here they are.

That's one.


Five out of seven.

That's it.

- Hello, sergeant.

- Sir, you've been in something this time.

- Shrapnel?

- Yes. Nearly blew the ship over.

Yeah, my word-- Look here, sir,

not 10 inches from your seat.

I needed that 10 inches, sergeant.

Oh, or every single ship--

- How'd you like it, Scott-o?

- All right. Are you intact?

- Yes, I think so.

- It was a hot one, wasn't it?

- Pretty warm.

- Who did we lose?

Blane and Machen.

Gonna lose Hollister, too,

by the look of it.

Don't take it to heart too much, sir.

We all gotta go some time, sir.

- Poor kid. Machen was his best friend.

- Yeah.

Let's go up.

I was telling him we all gotta go.

Sorry, but he went quickly.

He didn't feel any pain.

- Bobby Machen.

- Come on, Court.

Come on.

- A good stiff brandy, Bott.

- Yes, sir.

- Who was it, Blane?

- Blane, yes.

- Machen?

- And Machen. Blane and Machen.

- Here you are, captain.

- Thank you, Bott.

- Have you seen Tim?

- Here a moment ago, sir.

- Mr. Blane and Mr. Machen, sir?

- That's right, Bott.

Too bad, sir.

And the first time over the lines.

Hollister, have a drink, old man?

No, no, I-- I couldn't. Thank you.

What he needs is a cup of tea

and a nice lie down.

- A little headache powder--

- Quiet, you.

Just a suggestion.

You'd better come on down

and have a drink.

Bobby Machen.

He didn't come back, Court.

He didn't come back.

It couldn't have been Bobs.

It was burning.

- No, it couldn't have been Bobs.

- Steady. Here.

- Drink?

- No, I don't want it.

Come on. Sit down.

Look, get that into you.

You'll feel better.

Come on, bottoms up.


Look. Poor old Bobby.

Look at the....

You can pack his things later.

They didn't even give him time

to unpack.

You're from Harrogate, aren't you?

I used to have an aunt

that lived there.

When I was a kid, they used to send me

down to stay with her.

She was a funny old dame.

She used to have one of those great,

enormous ear trumpets....

- Hollister.

- Oh, where's Courtney?

- He's up there with him.

- Oh, there you are.

The C.O. wants to see you.

He does? Right.

Step into another world

and speak of lighter things?

- Very good idea.

- What'll you have?

Oh, the usual.

- Yes?

- We got to the bridge.

The bombers scored a direct hit

and wiped it out.

They did?

We lost two men.

Blane and Machen.

Oh, you did?

Yes. That's all.

Wait a minute, Courtney.

You were responsible for those new men.

Yes, that's right.

I was responsible for those two men.

We ran into that Heinie nest

on purpose.

We sent the Huns an engraved invitation

to come over and meet us.

- Yes?

- We were outnumbered...

...and forced to fly low.

We had to fight our way out.

All right, suppose you did.

You could have been more cautious.

Cautious? You don't think I enjoyed losing

those boys, do you?

Getting them burned up,

all over France.

Sending them up in crates that should

have been on the scrap heap months ago.

That's right. Now, tell me.

Tell me what's on your mind.

That I'm a murderer, I ought to give you

better planes, men, fliers.

Say it, why don't you say it?

I'm not blaming anyone, Brand.

Why don't they chuck it?

It isn't funny anymore.

You know what it is?

Brand is just about at the end of his tether.

His nerves are frayed out.

It's the responsibility.

Running the show on the ground

when he'd infinitely rather be...

...up there in a plane himself,

personally taking all the risks.

For a chap of Brand's temperament...

...a dangerous job is much easier

than sending other fellows into danger.

He has nothing against Courtney.

He relies on him and he needs him.

- It's a funny war.

- No, not, not awfully.

I say, Courtney,

do you remember Griggs in the 37th?

- Yes.

- He was killed the other day near Allensville.

- Pulled the wings off an FE.

- Was he? I hadn't heard.

I'll never forget Griggie's first solo flight.

He pancaked on top of that house...

...found himself upside down,

looking into the girl's bedroom.

Yes. And she opened the window,

and bashed him on the nose.

You're not gonna play

that again, are you?

- It's a beautiful thing.

- It smells.

- Makes me want to cry.

- Yeah, me too.

Who did that?

You do not appreciate good music.

- Hey.

- Hey!

- Furniture, the furniture.

- I've gotta deal with these things--

- I'll take that.

- Please, no.

I told you you'd get hurt.

Now, why don't you sit down.

- Scotty. Scotty.

- Hey. Hey.

Come in.

Here, give it to me.

- Anything more, sir?

- No.

- Is there an E in "courageously," Brand?

- Courageously? Yes, of course.

I'm just sending a letter of sympathy

to Mrs. Machen.

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Seton I. Miller

Seton Ingersoll Miller (May 3, 1902 – March 29, 1974) was an American screenwriter and producer. During his career, he worked with many notable film directors such as Howard Hawks and Michael Curtiz. Miller received two Oscar nominations and won once for Best Screenplay for fantasy romantic comedy film Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) along with Sidney Buchman. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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