Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies

1973

Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies is a 1973 American adventure-comedy film based on a story by Steven Spielberg. The film centers on a barnstorming pilot (Cliff Robertson) and his son (Eric Shea) as they fly around the United States in the 1920s, having adventures along the way. English actress Pamela Franklin provided the love interest. One of the driving forces behind the production, Robertson was a pilot in real life, although Hollywood stunt pilot Frank Tallman flew most of the aerial scenes.[3]

In the early 1920s, Eli (Cliff Robertson) is a barnstorming stunt pilot in Kansas. When flying with his wife Wilma, (Patricia Smith), Eli crashes into a barn. He survives by being thrown into a hay stack, but his wife is killed. He has to raise his 11-year-old son Rodger (Eric Shea) on his own. While Eli is the parent, his young son is often the more mature. Both father and son take on the restoration of the wrecked Standard J-1 aircraft, but are at odds when Rodger paints the name "Wilma" on the side of the aircraft. Eli becomes angry and upset and slaps paint over the name, still blaming himself for his wife's death. He paints on a slogan, "Fly with Ace Eli", instead.[Note 2]

Wanting to cut all ties to the past, Rodger, who misses his deceased mother, douses their farm house with gasoline and sets it ablaze, taking all the old memories with it. After finishing repairs on their aircraft, Eli and Rodger set off on a barnstorming tour. To begin their odyssey, the pair land on the main street in a small town and are treated like celebrities.

Wherever Eli lands, he finds a new girlfriend, but does not form any permanent relationships. One girl in particular, Shelby (Pamela Franklin), a rich flapper, chases Eli from town to town in her car. Eventually, she joins Eli and Rodger on their trip across the country. With Rodger exploring new adventures, trying out cigarettes and alcohol, and even what Eli calls "smutty" books, he still pines for his mother. Besides learning to fly with his father as a co-pilot, Rodger becomes the manager of the tour, looking after all the finances, even paying Allison (Bernadette Peters), a prostitute. Spurred by a taunt from his father, Rodger flies their aircraft solo, even managing a bouncy landing.

Shelby and Eli carry on a tempestuous relationship, but when Shelby is confronted by Eli's strident professions of love, she brutally ends the affair. Trying to comfort Rodger, whom she truly cares for, she is shunned and leaves. Eli ultimately accepts that his running away and dragging his son along on an aimless journey through Kansas is not good for either himself or his young son. Abandoning the barnstorming tour, the pair of aviators make their way back to their former home, where there are people who still love them.

Steven Spielberg had developed the story of a flyer with a young son, containing themes that interested him: aircraft and flying and parental responsibility. He developed the premise with fellow Cal State alumni Claudia Salter, and hoped to direct it himself, but Richard D. Zanuck, who was then the president of 20th Century Fox, declined to hire Spielberg as director. Producers Robert Fryer and James Cresson hired John Erman to direct because he was older. The film originally ended with Eli committing suicide, but the studio recut it to give it a happier ending. Spielberg was so displeased by the film that he publicly complained it had been "turned into a really sick film. They should bury it."[5] Spielberg would not make a film for Twentieth Century Fox until 2002's Minority Report (even then, this was a co-production with DreamWorks).

Fryer, Cresson, Erman and Salter disapproved of the final edit of the film, which was extensively re-cut, and had their names removed. The film was released with pseudonyms several years after it was filmed. "The names included in the credit box above for those contributions appear on the screen and are fictitious. For the record, 'Ace Eli' was actually produced by Robert Fryer and James Cresson, written by Claudia Ann Salter and directed by John Erman."[6][7]

The scenes set in the town of "Monument" were actually filmed at Mount Hope, Kansas in 1971. Additional scenes were shot in Hutchinson and Haven, Kansas.[8][9] In an article in The Hutchinson News about Pamela Franklin, she talked about her experiences of filming in a small Kansas town.[1]

The song "Who's for Complainin?", written and performed by Jim Grady, is featured in the title and end credits.[10]

In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote: "The production appears to have been expensive. The aerial photography is lovely, and the performances are O.K., but the movie is such a mess of unexplored moods and loose ends that it makes the later, similar Paper Moon look like a masterpiece. The film, which was made three years ago, is being shown here in a version that the original producers, writer and director so disapprove of that they took their names off it."[6]

Michael McKegney of The Village Voice echoed the sentiments of many critics, "... 'Ace Eli' manages to be mildly enjoyable whenever Cliff Robertson, Eric Shea, Pamela Franklin and Rosemary Murphy get the chance to establish some emotional rapport. However, the picaresque plot works against character development, and the visual fragmentation (there seems to be a good deal of post-production butchery) frequently leaves the poor actors struggling to find an expression appropriate to the moment."[11]

In a recent reappraisal on the website WhyFly Aero, Glenn Norman considered the film from the standpoint of historical accuracy: "... to my mind – 'Ace Eli & Rodger of the Skies' is one of the most honest portrayals of the real reason most 1920s Barnstormers were out there. Not for the love of flying (like Bach’s Barnstormers in Nothing By Chance {shot the same year!}), but – in the words of Cliff Robertson’s Ace Eli, '… because the whole damn thing is about me.' As far as I’m concerned, this is a very interesting, non-standard take on the whole Barnstormer legend, with great flying sequences that more than make up for any 'unexplored moods and loose ends'."[12]

Quelle: Wikipedia(englisch)
Kinostart:1973
weitere Titel:
Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skiesfi tr ast sh
Genre:Filmkomödie
Herstellungsland:Vereinigte Staaten
Originalsprache:Englisch
IMDB: 190
Verleih:20th Century Fox
Regie:John Erman
Musik:Jerry Goldsmith
Produzent:Robert Fryer
Darsteller:Cliff Robertson
Pamela Franklin
Eric Shea
Bernadette Peters
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Datenstand: 20.10.2019 02:42:05Uhr