Cock of the Air. 1932. USA. Directed by Tom Buckingham. Screenplay by Charles Lederer, Robert E. Sherwood. With Chester Morris, Billie Dove, Matt Moore. 80 min.
Co-presented with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, this New York premiere kicks off To Save and Project. Producer Howard Hughes combined two of his principal interests—one of them was airplanes—for this amazingly raunchy comedy set in Europe during World War I, with Chester Morris as an American pilot with an international reputation as a womanizer and Billie Dove as a French actress determined to teach him a lesson. Hughes tried but failed to sneak the film past the Hays censorship office and was forced to cut nearly two reels of footage; this restoration from the Academy Film Archive includes much of the censored imagery and uses newly recorded dialogue to fill in lines removed from the surviving soundtrack. The unheralded director Tom Buckingham demonstrates a surprisingly assured hand with extreme long takes, a technique he may have learned as a writer on Tay Garnett’s Her Man. DCP.