The Flying Ace

(Norman Film Manufacturing Company, USA, 1926)
dir.: Richard E.Norman; script: Richard E. Norman
cast: Lawrence Criner (Captain Billy Stokes), Kathryn Boyd (Ruth Sawtelle), Boise De Legge (Blair Kimball), Harold Platts (Finley Tucker), Lions Daniels (Jed Splivins), George Colvin (Thomas Sawtelle)

  DCP, 65’; bw; intertitles: EN, subtitles: PL; restored 2016; source: Library of Congress

Captain Billy Stokes, a World War I fighter pilot, returns from the front and resumes his work as a railway detective. His first task is to find the missing railway paymaster and the company payroll he was carrying. Stokes suspects pilot Finley Tucker of the theft and follows him in a high-speed mid-air pursuit...

During the 1920s, few black actors were employed in Hollywood, and their roles were often played instead by white actors in “blackface” make-up. However, that didn’t mean that Black American cinema was not being created in other film centres. One of the precursors in this area was the white filmmaker Richard E. Norman, who founded a production studio in Florida. He was not indifferent to the issue of race relations at that time, but as a businessman he also saw a huge potential market for his films. During the great migration of 1915–1930, when more than 1.3 million black people left the southern states to settle in cities in the north of the country, it became clear that they were a new type of cinema audience, requiring movies which appealed to them. Norman decided to offer them exactly that.

The Flying Ace was a low-budget film. This can be seen in the fact that the airplanes shown in the picture are actually the same model plane filmed from different angles, and all the scenes in the air were, in reality, shot on the ground. The picture was a great success, however, and for Black Americans it was exactly what it was supposed to be – a perfect world to escape to. A world without racial problems and with a main character who is a military pilot, although in reality black people were not able to pilot military aircraft until 1940. (GR)

  The film was restored in 2010 at the National Audio-Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The source material was a Norman Studios original nitrate negative gifted to the Library of Congress by the American Film Institute in 1979.

  introduction to the movie: Iga Harasimowicz

  music by: Miłosz Oleniecki


20:00  | screening room: MAŁA CZARNA

presented with: Charleston Parade

  • THE FLYING ACE, source: Library of Congress

  • THE FLYING ACE, source: Library of Congress

  • THE FLYING ACE, source: Library of Congress