6 user 4 critic

Men Against the Sky (1940)

Alcoholic pilot struggles to turn his life around.


Leslie Goodwins


Nathanael West (screenplay), John Twist (story)


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Complete credited cast:
Richard Dix ... Phil Mercedes
Kent Taylor ... Martin Ames
Edmund Lowe ... Dan McLean
Wendy Barrie ... Kay Mercedes, aka Kay Green
Granville Bates ... Mr. Burdett
Grant Withers ... Mr. Grant
Donald Briggs ... Dick Allerton
Charles Quigley ... Flynn
Selmer Jackson ... Capt. Sanders
Lee Bonnell Lee Bonnell ... Capt. Wallen


Alcoholic pilot struggles to turn his life around.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SCREAMING OUT OF THE STRATOSPHERE---the world's fastest pursuit ship...to make aviation has-been a hero...if he pulls out of murderous-dive alive! (original print ad)


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 September 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A l'assaut des cieux See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Features 1935 original Hughes H-1 RACER, Transcontinental non-stop speed record 1937-01-19, 2,490 miles at avg. speed 332 mph over 7 hr.,28min.,25 sec., currently located at National Air & Space Museum and also featured in the recent movie "The Aviator." See more »

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User Reviews

Great for aviation buffs, but for the rest it's pretty much a dud
2 January 2007 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

The film has two main themes. A world-famous aviator (Dix) has slowly destroyed his once amazing career and he has his pilot's license revoked for being drunk in the cockpit. The film is about his rebuilding his life, though through very long stretches of the film he is absent or practically absent as the second plot took precedence during most of the film. A small aircraft manufacturer is trying to design a fighter plane in order to win a lucrative government contract. So much of the film concerns the struggles they go through as well as a budding relationship that never seems to get off the ground between the project manager and a female draftsman.

As far as the plane goes, I know most who see the film won't notice some of the problems with how they executed the flying sequences and the plane itself. While the plane is supposed to be "the latest thing" and capable of flying over 400 m.p.h., the design is actually similar to experimental craft being produced from 1932-1936 (looking a lot like the airplane used in the old Universal Studios intros), so in so many ways the craft was totally obsolete. This isn't a real issue for the average person, but hey, for us aviation buffs it is noticeable. But what IS noticeable even for the casual viewer are the silly physics of the plane as it flies. It's very obviously a model and it executes turns that no plane EVER could make--making the tiniest loop-to-loops and spins in history! A little more money and effort could have made for much more realistic and less silly flying sequences. However, even despite these problems, the movie is about a seldom discussed topic and I found it very interesting from a historical standpoint.

As for me, personally, I would score this movie a 6 or 7, since I am a huge fan of the history of aviation and am a school teacher. However, I also understand that for the average viewer, this film will no doubt be pretty dull stuff and provide little entertainment. Also, as far as a the romance goes, it never really made much sense and never seemed to get past minor infatuation. Plus, for fans of Richard Dix (and there must be a few out there), his role in the film is pretty small and not especially heroic--despite him receiving top billing.

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