Movie Review: Fugitive in the Sky (1936)

Synopsis: A passenger on a flight to New York is found murdered and, a short while later, the plane is hijacked by a wanted felon who forces the pilot to fly through a dust storm. If things aren't bad enough, he may not be the killer.

Who's in it? The movie stars Jean Muir, Warren Hull, Gordon Oliver, Carlyle Moore, Jr., and Howard Phillips.

Review: I was in the mood for a murder mystery this morning and finally decided to watch this film, which I came across a couple weeks ago. At first, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the movie but it turned out to be better than expected.

One thing that really stood out for me about this film was the way it had a decent murder mystery. At first, it seemed like 'Killer' Madsen (Phillips) was the obvious culprit but, when he claimed to have nothing to do with it (and made a compelling argument why it made no sense for him to commit the crime), it was apparent one of the other passengers was guilty.

The movie also does a good job of keeping the killer a secret until toward the end, focusing instead on the hijacking. The passengers are given just enough screen time to get a feel for the kind of person they are (a drunk, a boxer who has taken too many punches, etc.) but not enough detail to give the killer away. Having such limited information did keep the movie interesting because you never knew if/when one of them would create another complication.

Another thing I found I liked about this movie was the way it managed to have a strong female protagonist in the plane's stewardess Rita Moore (Muir). While everyone else pretty much just sat around and did nothing, she made more than one effort to outsmart Madsen. Her plans didn't go as she would have preferred but it was still better than having a female lead who just waits around for one of the men to do something.

Final Opinion: It's a short but decent murder mystery with a lot of action and quite a bit of suspense. I'd recommend taking the time to watch it if you get a chance.

My Grade: B


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