GenreDrama Story byElliott White Springs CountryUnited States
Release dateFebruary 22, 1931 (1931-02-22) Based onplay Squadrons
by Elliott White Springs and A. E. Thomas WriterJules Furthman, Elliott White Springs (story), A.E. Thomas (play) CastCharles Farrell (Mal Andrews), Elissa Landi (Carla), Humphrey Bogart (Jim Watson), Myrna Loy (Alice Lester), Don Dillaway (Tap Johnson), Crauford Kent (Major Burke) Similar moviesMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Kingsman: The Secret Service, Spy, Bridge of Spies, Skyfall
Body and Soul (1931) is an American Pre-Code action and drama film directed by Alfred Santell. The story, adapted from the stage play Squadrons by Elliott White Springs and A.E. Thomas, depicts Royal Air Force pilots in World War I. The film stars Charles Farrell, Elissa Landi, Humphrey Bogart and Myrna Loy.
In World War I, American pilots Mal Andrews (Charles Farrell), Tap Johnson (Don Dillaway) and Jim Watson (Humphrey Bogart) enrol in a Royal Air Force squadron. Mal and Tap are worried that their friend Jim is cheating on his new bride. When General Trafford Jones (Ian MacLaren ) arrives to evaluate the squadron, he criticizes its lack of discipline and poor effort in aerial battles. Consequently, the general orders Watson to undertake a near-suicidal mission to shoot down an enemy balloon for his first flight with the squadron. Secretly, Mal joins him aboard the aircraft and when Jim is killed in the air battle, his friend manages to complete the mission and make it look like the dead pilot was a hero.
At the base, Jim's wife Carla (Elissa Landi) is mistaken for "Pom Pom," his mistress. Mal falls in love with Carla and when Alice Lester (Myrna Loy), the real "Pom Pom", appears, she finds out that Tap is about to fly a mission. Lester is a German spy whose information sent to the enemy, results in Tap being killed. When Mal realizes that Carla is Jim's widow and not his mistress, he sets off on another mission, with the hope that he will return to his true love.
Body and Soul began location shooting on November 29, 1930, at the Russell Movie Ranch in Agoura, California, with a modicum of flying. A Travel Air 4000 biplane that had been flown in Hell's Angels (1930), disguised as a British World War I fighter aircraft, was the only actual aircraft acquired for the production. A combination of flying sequences, matched to sound stage process shots at the studio where the Travel Air was again used, completed the aerial scenes. Production wrapped up on January 2, 1931.
The main attraction of Body and Soul was in the drama and the introduction of Elissa Landi to North American audiences. In Mordaunt Hall's review for The New York Times, he noted: "There are several effective flying episodes, but after all, the whole production hinges on the excellent portrayal of Elissa Landi." He also praised other actors: "Myrna Loy does well with the minor role of Alice Lester. Humphrey Bogart is earnest as Jim Watson, and Donald Dillaway acquits himself favorably as the valorous Tap Johnson."