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Going Wild

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Going Wild
Lobby card
Directed byWilliam A. Seiter
Written byHenry McCarty
Humphrey Pearson
Based onThe Aviator
1910 play
by James Montgomery
Produced byWilliam A. Seiter
StarringJoe E. Brown
Ona Munson
Walter Pidgeon
CinematographySol Polito
Edited byPeter Fritch
Music byErno Rapee
David Mendoza (composer)
Distributed byFirst National Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 1930 (1930-12-21)
Running time
68 minutes
CountryUnited States

Going Wild is a 1930 Warner Brothers pre-Code comedy film based on the 1910 play The Aviator by James Montgomery and directed by William A. Seiter. The film stars many musical stars along with Joe E. Brown, Frank McHugh and Johnny Arthur.[1][2]

A print is held in the Library of Congress collection.[3]


Rollo Smith and his friend Jack Lane are down on their luck and have stowed away on a train, finding a place in the compartment of ace pilot and writer Robert Story. The conductor ejects Rollo and Jack from the train just where the famous writer is supposed to arrive, and Rollo is mistaken for Story.

Peggy Freeman and May Bunch both vie for Rollo's attention, believing that he is a famous pilot. The girls receive free room and meals at the Palm Inn. Rollo, who has never flown, is invited to fly in an air race as Story against a real aviator, "Ace" Benton, with a chance to win a $25,000 wager. After he somehow lifts the plane off the ground, Rollo can barely control the aircraft. Ferguson, the real pilot whom Peggy had locked in a closet, appears, but Rollo continues to unwittingly perform an aerial show, forcing Ace to abandon the race.

When Peggy accidentally pulls her parachute ring, Rollo joins her as they safely float to earth and he proposes.



The last 10 minutes of Going Wild showcase an impromptu aerial duel.
The last 10 minutes of Going Wild showcase an impromptu aerial duel.

Going Wild was filmed in Glendale, California at the Griffith Park Aerodrome using California National Guard hangars, with additional scenes shot at the Warner Bros. studios. A Travel Air B-4000 (c/n 1323, NC688K) appearing as the Blue Star is the same aircraft that appears in the Tailspin Tommy film series (1934) and Wings in the Dark (1935). The character of Ace Barton flies a Travel Air 9000/4000 (c/n 381, NC4421) named the Zoom, later appearing in Skyway (1933).[4]

The film was originally intended as a musical, but only one song, "My Hero Mine," is featured, sung by Joe E. Brown and Laura Lee. Several other musical numbers are heard in the background throughout the film. The press sheet for the film did not mention "My Hero Mine."[5] During production, many cuts to the film were made, including all of the original music. Two other films featuring Brown, Top Speed (1930) and Sit Tight (1931), met the same fate.[5] [Note 1]

A French version titled L'aviateur was released in 1931.[6]


In a contemporary review for The New York Times, critic Mordaunt Hall wrote: "It is a farce that depends more upon actions than words, and it was no wonder that the spectators at an early showing of this film actually shrieked with laughter and really rocked in their seats. It is an ingenious affair which is not particularly novel, but the manner in which it is worked out is decidedly clever. There are several episodes that defy anybody to keep a straight face."[7]

Aviation-film historian Stephen Pendo has noted that Going Wild contains a similar theme to that of The Aviator (1929).[8]

Preservation status

Going Wild survives only in the edited version that was released in late 1930 by Warner Bros. The complete film was released intact in countries outside the United States, but it is unknown whether a copy of this full version still exists.

The edited version has been released on DVD through the Warner Archive Collection.



  1. ^ Due to the backlash against musicals, all of the musical talent in Going Wild were released from their Warner Bros. contracts by 1931.


  1. ^ Wynne 1987, p. 173.
  2. ^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1893-1993:Going Wild
  3. ^ Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, (<-book title) p.69 c.1978 by The American Film Institute
  4. ^ Santoir, Christian. "Going Wild". Retrieved: November 26, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Barrios 1995, p. 330.
  6. ^ "Notes: Going Wild." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: November 26, 2014.
  7. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (January 26, 1931). "The Screen". The New York Times. p. 21.
  8. ^ Pendo 1985, p. 36.


  • Barrios, Richard. A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-19508-811-3.
  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.
  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 0-933126-85-9.
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Going Wild
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