Air Devils

Air Devils is a 1938 American action comedy film directed by John Rawlins, based on an original story, "The Fighting Marines" by Harold Buckley. The film stars Larry J. Blake, Dick Purcell and Beryl Wallace.

Air Devils
Theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Rawlins
Produced by
  • Trem Carr (producer)
  • Paul Malvern (associate producer)
Written by
Based onoriginal story "The Fighting Marines"
by Harold Buckley
StarringLarry J. Blake
Dick Purcell
Beryl Wallace
Music byCharles Previn
CinematographyHarry Neumann
Edited byCharles Craft
Distributed byUniversal Pictures Co.
Release date
  • May 13, 1938 (1938-05-13)
Running time
57, 58 or 61 minutes
CountryUnited States


Set in the island of Taro Pago in the years before World War II, two former Marine pilots, John P. "Horseshoe" Donovan (Larry J. Blake) and Percy "Slats" Harrington (Dick Purcell), are hired as air "constables" (constabularies) to keep order on the remote Pacific island. Both friends vie for the attentions of Marcia Bradford (Beryl Wallace) and, through a series of misadventures, find that neither will win out.

The two pilots find that local tavern owner, Tom Mordant (Charles Brokaw), has been stirring up the natives and a civil war is brewing. The two rivals have to combine forces to stop violence and bring the island back to peaceful times.



Air Devils begins with this prologue: "The Pacific Ocean is strewn with tropical islands, large and small, to which drift adventuring souls. The island are policed and protected by constabularies which function under the local governments. These constabularies are well disciplined military organizations, splendidly equipped and officered by men who have completed enlistments in, and been honorably discharged from, the Army, Navy or Marine Corps, but who have succumbed to the magic spell of the South Seas." Despite the presence of Mamo Clark as Lolano, who had made her film debut in a featured role in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and the illusion of an exotic locale embodied by lush sets, Air Devils was a studio property.[2] Universal Pictures began principal photography late March 1938 at Talisman Studios.[3] Air Devils has an aviation-oriented title that is belied by there being very few scenes with an aircraft. Only one Waco biplane is seen in the film.[4]


Air Devils premiered at 70 minutes, but was subsequently re-edited down to a running time of 57-61 minutes.[2][Note 1] Typical of many of the low-budget B film of the period, later reviews were not complimentary. "A generic action movie with limited means support. Be it budget or actors. Had a couple of half-decent action scenes, but otherwise a very lackluster storyline which was forgotten as soon as the movie ended."[5] Producer Trem Carr had been behind the numerous John Wayne B films of the same period.



  1. The DVD release is 62 minutes.[1]


  1. "Air Devils." Aerofiles. Retrieved: August 13, 2014.
  2. "Notes: Air Devils (1938)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: August 13, 2014.
  3. "Original Print Information: Air Devils (1938)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: August 13, 2014.
  4. Wynne 1987, p. 181.
  5. "Air Devils (1938)" Retrieved: August 13, 2014.


  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 0-933126-85-9.
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