The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

The Eagle and the Hawk Poster

The pilots of a Royal Air Force squadron in World War I face not only physical but mental dangers in their struggle to survive while fighting the enemy.

Film Introduction
"The Eagle and the Hawk" is an American pre-Code war film, released in 1933 by Paramount Pictures, directed by Stuart Walker, and featuring an all-star cast consisting of Fredric March, Cary Grant, and Jack Oakie. The script was adapted by Bogart Rogers and Seton I. Miller from a story by John Monk Saunders.

Plot Summary
The movie is a gripping, grim story of World War I pilots and the psychological effects of the war on its individuals. Fredric March plays the function of Lt. Jerry H. Young, a troubled and disgusted American British Squadron pilot, whereas Cary Grant depicts Lt. Henry Crocker, a stoic and unsympathetic leader, upholding the callous needs of war.

The motion picture starts with Jerry brought by his superior, Major Dunham, to a squadron operating in France, where he is partnered with the irreverent, jovial Mike "Bags" Richards, played by Jack Oakie. As they get involved in lethal air battles, Young complains the inhumanity of "assaulting from behind". He shares his belief that warfare need to involve fair threats for both contenders. Meanwhile, the pragmatic Crocker disagrees, citing task and the inescapable death as essential parts of the warfare.

Character Arc and Development
Young deals with the psychological weight of eliminating opponent pilots and seeing his fellow soldiers die. His delicate nature makes the routine killings exceptionally taxing, making him drink to cope with the trauma. His casual, fun-loving partner, Richards, provides a contrasting personality, keeping the spirits high regardless of their dangerous job. Nevertheless, as the casualties increase, he is likewise affected and becomes the ultimate "war is hell" voice towering above the field.

In an extreme twist, Richards sacrifices himself to conserve Young in a dogfight, leaving Young ravaged and sorry. Meanwhile, Crocker continues to order Young into the dangerous skies versus the progressively innovative German air force.

Final Acts and Resolution
The movie advances with Young feeling haunted by the faces of the men he has eliminated, culminating in him fatally shooting Crocker throughout a heated argument about the futility and barbarity of war. Thinking it is justice for the death he has actually triggered, Young permits himself to be court-martialed. Nevertheless, an unexpected confession by a passing away soldier confirms that Crocker dedicated suicide, freeing Young from any charge.

In spite of this, Young, overwhelmed by guilt and trauma, willingly continues his service, leading him to a dangerous confrontation with a German squadron. In the poignant climax, Young sacrifices himself in a suicide attack on the Austrians, sealing his awful hero story.

"The Eagle and the Hawk" is an unrelenting, grim exploration of the psychological scars the war imprints on the minds of those in the battlefield. Fredric March's effective performance as a delicate and haunted pilot is among the highlights of the film together with Cary Grant's portrayal of a cold-blooded officer. It efficiently contrasts the heroism and valor usually depicted in war films with the human suffering and injury triggered by war, making it a substantial entry in the genre.

Top Cast

  • Fredric March (small)
    Fredric March
    Jerry H. Young
  • Cary Grant (small)
    Cary Grant
    Henry Crocker
  • Jack Oakie (small)
    Jack Oakie
    Mike 'Slug' Richards
  • Carole Lombard (small)
    Carole Lombard
    The Beautiful Lady
  • Guy Standing (small)
    Guy Standing
    Major Dunham
  • Forrester Harvey (small)
    Forrester Harvey
  • Kenneth Howell (small)
    Kenneth Howell
    Lt. John Stevens
  • Leyland Hodgson (small)
    Leyland Hodgson
    Lt. Kingsford
  • Virginia Hammond (small)
    Virginia Hammond
    Lady Erskine
  • Douglas Scott (small)
    Douglas Scott
    Tommy Erskine
  • Robert Seiter (small)
    Robert Seiter
    Arnold Voss