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Captains of the Clouds (Warner 1942, James Cagney, Dennis Morgan)



Captains of the Clouds was made in the same year as two of the director’s most famous movies, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Casablanca. The former won JAMES CAGNEY, who also stars in this movie, an Oscar, while the latter also won an Oscar for the prolific director Michael Curtiz (shooting 44 films in the 30s).

Captains of the Clouds is notable too in many other ways. It was also nominated for two Oscars (including one for cinematographer Sol Polito), and was the first Hollywood movie to be entirely shot on location in Canada.

James Cagney stars as Brian MacLean, an independently minded bush pilot who muscles in on turf covered by Johnny Dutton (DENNIS MORGAN), Tiny Murphy (ALAN HALE), Blimp Lebec (GEORGE TOBIAS) and Scrounger Harris (REGINALD GARDINER). Brian’s independence serves him well as a pilot but leads him successfully into trouble not least through marrying Emily (BRENDA MARSHALL), the girlfriend of Johnny Dutton who once saved his life. But things get worse for Brian after he joins the war effort only to find himself serving beneath Johnny.

production details
USA | Warner | 114 minutes | 1942

Writers: Arthur T Horman, Richard Macaulay and Norman Reilly Raine
Cinematography: Sol Polito, Wilfrid M. Cline
Music: Max Steiner
Producers: Hal. B. Wallis, William Cagney
Director: Michael Curtiz

Reginald Denny as Commanding officer
Pat Flaherty as Drill Sergeant
Brenda Marshall as Emily Foster
Clem Bevans as Sam ‘Store-Teeth’ Morrison
Paul Cavanagh as Group Captain
Dennis Morgan as Johnny Dutton (bush pilot)
Alan Hale as Francis Patrick ‘Tiny’ Murphy (bush pilot)
James Cagney as Brian MacLean (bush pilot)
George Tobias as Blimp Lebec (bush pilot)
Reginald Gardiner as Scrounger Harris (bush pilot)
W.A. Bishop as Himself
Russell Arms as Louis ‘Alabama’ Prentiss
J. M. Kerrigan as Foster (storekeeper / Emily’s father)
J. Farrell MacDonald as Dr. Neville (from Churchtown)
Patrick O’Moore as Fyffe
Morton Lowry as Carmichael