DVDless Dvorak Films, Part 4: Sky Devils

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 22

I have only seen Sky Devils twice. The first time was around 2002, and the second was in 2010 when I needed to re-watch it in order to write about it in the Ann Dvorak book. Both times, it was sheer agony to get through.

Despite having jokes written by Robert Benchley, who I am generally a fan of, there is nothing funny in this comedy about AWOL WWI soldiers who have wacky adventures and run into Ann Dvorak for some reason. Despite starring Spencer Tracy, who I generally adore, he is unimpressive in this farcical film which was produced by Howard Hughes and uses recycled aviation footage from Hell’s Angels.

So, if I so completely loath Sky Devils, why would I include it as a film I would like to see released? First off, I am a fan of making every last Ann Dvorak film available no matter how bad they might be. If all her films had been accessible ten years ago, that would have made my life much easier and I would rather that future Dvorak aficionados be able to have the full Ann-D filmography experience. Additionally, as with many Dvorak films in my personal collection, the quality is terrible which renders it fairly unwatchable. I am hoping the bad print the main reason why I find Sky Devils disdainful and not because Spencer Tracy cannot pull off jokes written by Robert Benchley that are not funny to begin with.

Likelihood of an Official DVD Release: I’m going to guess pretty unlikely. I’m not sure who has the rights to this one. Universal reissued Sky Devils along with Scarface and Hell’s Angels in 1979, so maybe they still have it. Even if they do, I kind of doubt they’re racing to get this one on the market.


  1. artman2112 January 22, 2013

    i have never seen this one…not sure i want to except that Ann sure looks lovely in that picture so yeah i guess i would watch it regardless, haha! but i didnt know benchley could write funny jokes 🙂 no offense but i find him ridiculously unfunny most of the time. i did however enjoy his performance in Young and Willing with a very young (and i assume willing) susan hayward. hey i watched Molly Louvain tonight, that was a pretty decent flick! a total WB film from start to finish and not really anything overtly special about it except that Ann is the star and in the WHOLE film! i thought she was great! that kid Richard Cromwell was unknown to me until i finally saw a very crappy copy of Hoopla, clara bows last film, about a year ago. anyway i enjoyed Molly Louvain very much…now i gotta watch Crooner, and Friends of Mr Sweeney and Girls of the Road and… 😀

  2. DickP January 30, 2013

    Christina: Just how bad is your copy of “Sky Devils”?

  3. admin January 30, 2013

    Well, it’s a VHS copy that was originally recorded off a TV broadcast sometime in the 1990s and looks like it’s a copy of a copy of a copy. 🙂

  4. DickP January 31, 2013

    “Sky Devils”..This certainly is one of the early 1930’s “zany films” as they were called. Which was another way of saying the story line boggles the imagination, the acting overall (especially this early Spencer Tracy) is terrible; but there is an upside. The story moves longer quickly enough that you won’t get bored (except in a few places), the aviation scenes are interesting due to the planes of that era (and Hughes fascination with flying), and some of the characters are somewhat believable. Ann does her part as the usual “tag along” girl to the guys, but it certainly was no stretch for her abilities! On the other hand, I suspect it was a fun movie to make for the cast members.

    I wouldn’t rate this movie in the “A” category, nor the “B” category..Probably a “C minus” at best or a “D plus” most likely. Would I buy a new archival version if I didn’t already have a pretty fair copy? NO!! But if I didn’t already have a copy I certainly would buy a new release.

    Ann’s performance? I think she played this one for fun, and with tongue in cheek in a lot of areas. It would be difficult to be a good actress when you’re dragged through the mayhem of a production such as this; but, never the less, it’s always a treat to see her do her “thing” regardless. After “Scarface” I suspect Ann rightfully saw herself on the road to stardom and realized that farces like this were a necessary bump in the road to fame and fortune. So she toughed it out and did it, why not?

  5. admin January 31, 2013

    I’m going with D+!

    I don’t think Ann minded. It was only her second film and since the release pf Scarface was severely delayed, she was happy to be working on anything.

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