Tuesday, July 12, 2011
“The Flying Fleet “ (1929)
“The Flying Fleet “ (1929) is a silent drama starring Ramon Novarro, Ralph Graves, and Anita Page. Directed by George Hill, this film features excellent footage of naval aircraft. The story begins with six graduating seniors at the U.S. Naval Academy on the eve of their graduation. The six have been the best of friends for four years, and all of them are hopeful flyboys, but only two, Lt. Tommy Winslow, played by Ramon Novarro, and Lt. Steve Randall, played by Ralph Graves, complete the program. Unfortunately, they become romantic rivals when they fall in love with the same girl, Anita Hastings, played by Anita Page.
I think “The Flying Fleet” is a very good film. Ramon Novarro and Ralph Graves deliver great performances as hopeful flyboys and romantic rivals. The 18 year old Anita Page looks lovely and gives a charming performance as the love interest of the two buddies. This film depicted naval flight training in a very authentic way. I liked the way synchronized sound effects and music were added to this otherwise silent film. A box office hit, “The Flying Fleet” is a late MGM silent that is worth watching, especially for those that love old aircrafts.
Anita Page was born Anita Pomares on August 4, 1910, in Queens, New York. Her father’s side of the family was from El Salvador of Spanish ancestry. Her entrance into films came courtesy of her friend, actress Betty Bronson. Betty’s mother put one of Anita’s photos in her home, and a man who was handling Betty’s fan mail saw it and said he was going into the business of handling stars. Anita called him, and he told her to be at the front gate of Paramount at 9:00 the next morning and to bring the picture. The casting director took one look at the picture and gave Anita a test. MGM was also interested. Anita was put through the dilemma of having to choose between MGM and Paramount contracts. She decided to take the MGM contract. Anita’s first MGM film was “Telling the World” (1927) with William Haines. Another early role was “While the City Sleeps” (1928) as Lon Chaney’s love interest. Anita’s biggest break was “Our Dancing Daughters” (1928) with Joan Crawford and Johnny Mack Brown. Anita made two more films with Joan Crawford, “Our Modern Maidens” (1929) and “Our Blushing Brides” (1930). In 1929, Anita appeared in two talkies, “The Hollywood Revue” and the Academy Award-winning “The Broadway Melody.” From about 1930 on, MGM began to lose interest in Anita’s career. Anita had admired the way Louis B. Mayer, studio head at MGM, groomed stars if he liked them and remained in his favor. However, when Mayer tried to get her into bed, that is when Anita drew the line. She liked him as a boss, but that is where it ended. In 1934, Anita wed songwriter Nacio Herb Brown, who had dedicated the song “You Were Meant for Me” to her. They never lived together because Anita said they were not married in the Catholic church. After nine months of marriage, Anita found out he was still married to his previous wife, so Anita had their marriage annulled. In 1937, Anita did marry in church, to a handsome naval officer named Herschel House. They were married fifty-four years until House died in 1992. The couple had two daughters.
Anita had many fond memories of her career, and thought she was blessed to have worked with so many of the greats like Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, John Gilbert, William Haines, Clark Gable and Ramon Novarro, her favorite leading man. Anita Page died on September 6, 2008 of natural causes. She was 98 years old.