Flight

Director:

F. Capra

Producer:

H. Cohn

Year:

1929

Distributor:

Columbia Pictures

Country:

USA

Running time:

120 min

Genre:

Adventure, Action, Military

Format:

B&W Both silent & sound versions exist

Availability:

DVD; VHS

Keywords:

University athletics (football), Harvard University, Yale University, Military, Fixed game, Thrown game, Gambling
Summary:
Capra's Hollywood take on the Beau Geste narrative of redemption tells the story of Lefty Phelps, who must endure one of the great tragedies of the American Experience: A backup quarterback, he has caused his college's team to lose the Big New Years Day Football Game (a thinly-disguised Rose Bowl) by running the wrong way and scoring for the other team. What is Lefty to do — join the Foreign Legion? Too foreign for American audiences. Join the Peace Corps? That's not what the college football-as-warrior-training metaphor stands for. However, the Marine Air Corps works; all that is needed to complete the formula is for Lefty to win the heart of his best girl — which he does — while asserting American Manifest Destiny in Latin America by flying dangerous solo missions.
Teaching Notes:
Portrayal of university athletics:
The film provides a nice glimpse of what American college football looked like in the 1920's: Compare the clip below, for example, to films like:

We don't even know if Lefty attended classes or not: What is important is not that he might have flunked out, but that he let down his footballl team.