The flyer in question is a plane, not a hand out being thrust into the fists of drunken revellers in the queue outside a club. And the lady in question is Lana Turner, playing a pilot trying to make it in the man’s world of aviation.
Lana Turner is Maggie Colby, a pilot and pilot trainer at a flying school, and partner of Al Reynolds (Richard Denning). They are both convinced, by Al’s friend Mike Dandridge, to start a new business of flying surplus military aircraft left over from the second world war for those who are buying them. Being a cargo service where the planes themselves are the cargo.
The Lady Takes A Flyer is an odd film because it doesn’t appear to know what it wants to be. It has all the ingredients for romantic comedy but abandons them. Then there’s a nice little set-up for a story about jealousy and friends betraying each other. But no, that’s dropped too. As far as 45 minutes into the film, so many set-ups have been established to structurally taunt the audience and then abandoned it’s almost like the filmmakers were flinging everything at the plot and hoping something lodged.
Eventually it settles down and it becomes a battle-of-the-sexes-at-work drama, by which point there’s barely any running time left. As a film it’s fitfully entertaining but the amount of discarded moments of possible conflict stops the mood from ever solidifying. There are so many times where a more interesting film peers through the cracks, but they are so quickly papered over it becomes frustrating to watch.
What is great for a film made in 1958 though is that Maggie more than holds her own against the male characters – she’s an expert flyer, and excels. What the final conclusion of the drama has to say about that is moot – will she continue after the events of movie or not? That question is not satisfactorily answered, but modern audiences will hope the argument is won.
Like a movie made of identikit pieces that don’t quite match, The Lady Takes A Flyer is a curiously mixed bag.
It’s out now on DVD.