Body and Soul (1931 film)

Body and Soul (1931) is an American Pre-Code action and drama film directed by Alfred Santell and starring Charles Farrell, Elissa Landi, Humphrey Bogart and Myrna Loy.[1] The story, adapted from the stage play Squadrons by Elliott White Springs and A.E. Thomas, depicts Royal Air Force pilots in World War One.[Note 1]

Body and Soul
Directed byAlfred Santell
Produced byWilliam Fox
Written byJules Furthman
Based onplay Squadrons
by Elliott White Springs and A. E. Thomas
Music by
  • Peter Brunelli
  • George Lipschultz (uncredited)
CinematographyGlen MacWilliams
Edited byPaul Weatherwax
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release date
  • February 22, 1931 (1931-02-22)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States


In World War I, American pilots Mal Andrews (Charles Farrell), Tap Johnson (Don Dillaway) and Jim Watson (Humphrey Bogart) enrol in a Royal Air Force squadron. Mal and Tap are worried that their friend Jim is cheating on his new bride. When General Trafford Jones (Ian MacLaren ) arrives to evaluate the squadron, he criticizes its lack of discipline and poor effort in aerial battles. Consequently, the general orders Watson to undertake a near-suicidal mission to shoot down an enemy balloon for his first flight with the squadron. Secretly, Mal joins him aboard the aircraft and when Jim is killed in the air battle, his friend manages to complete the mission and make it look like the dead pilot was a hero.

At the base, Jim's wife Carla (Elissa Landi) is mistaken for "Pom Pom," his mistress. Mal falls in love with Carla and when Alice Lester (Myrna Loy), the real "Pom Pom", appears, she finds out that Tap is about to fly a mission. Lester is a German spy whose information sent to the enemy, results in Tap being killed. When Mal realizes that Carla is Jim's widow and not his mistress, he sets off on another mission, with the hope that he will return to his true love.



Body and Soul began location shooting on November 29, 1930, at the Russell Movie Ranch in Agoura, California, with a modicum of flying.[4] A Travel Air 4000 biplane that had been flown in Hell's Angels (1930), disguised as a British World War I fighter aircraft, was the only actual aircraft acquired for the production.[5] A combination of flying sequences, matched to sound stage process shots at the studio where the Travel Air was again used, completed the aerial scenes.[5] Production wrapped up on January 2, 1931.[6]


The main attraction of Body and Soul was in the drama and the introduction of Elissa Landi to North American audiences. In Mordaunt Hall's review for The New York Times, he noted: "There are several effective flying episodes, but after all, the whole production hinges on the excellent portrayal of Elissa Landi." He also praised other actors: "Myrna Loy does well with the minor role of Alice Lester. Humphrey Bogart is earnest as Jim Watson, and Donald Dillaway acquits himself favorably as the valorous Tap Johnson."[3]



  1. Body ad Soul was Bogart's third credited screen appearance.[2]
  2. Landi made her American film debut in the film.[3]


  1. Fortune magazine, August 1931, p. 27.
  2. Maltin 1994, p. 84.
  3. Hall, Mordaunt. The screen, Romantic war fliers, 'Body and Soul' (1931)." The New York Times, March 14, 1931.
  4. Wynne 1987, p. 114.
  5. Orriss 2013, p. 59.
  6. "Original Print Information: Body and Soul (1931)." Turner Classic movies. Retrieved: August 10, 2014.


  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Dutton, 1994. ISBN 0-525-93635-1.
  • Orriss, Bruce W. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War I. Los Angeles: Aero Associates, 2013. ISBN 978-0-692-02004-3.
  • 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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