Fugitive in the Sky is a 1936 American drama film directed by Nick Grinde and written by George Bricker. The stars are Jean Muir, Warren Hull, Gordon Oliver, Carlyle Moore Jr., Howard Phillips, Winifred Shaw and Mary Treen. The film was released by Warner Bros. on November 28, 1936.
In Los Angeles, air hostess Rita Moore (Jean Muir) chats with her suitor, reporter Terry Brewer (Warren Hull), as passengers check in beside the plane for a flight to New York. He recognizes one as federal agent Mike Phelan (John Litel) traveling incognito. Hoping that Phelan will be catching "Killer" Madsen, who is wanted for murder, Brewer phones his editor for permission and boards the plane as well, to the annoyance of pilot Bob White (Gordon Oliver), another suitor of Rita's. The Ford Trimotor now has a full load of 12 passengers.
At a stop in Albuquerque, passenger Katie Tristo (Nedda Harrigan), who generally talks about nothing but astrology, buys an Indian-made dagger from a souvenir stand. Between there and the next stop in Kansas City, most of the passengers are dozing when someone takes this dagger and stabs another passenger, Ramon Duval (Gordon Elliott).
When the crime is discovered, Phelan reveals his true identity and attempts to take charge, but instead a "female" passenger draws a gun, disarms and handcuffs Phelan, and hijacks the plane. He removes his disguise: he is "Killer" Madsen. He disables the radio transmitter, throws the pilots' guns out the cockpit window, and orders them to fly to Evansville, Indiana. As they fly, Brewer asks for and is granted an interview: Madsen claims that he never murdered anyone with a knife and that, since he had been trying to escape scrutiny and not bring it on, someone else must have committed this new murder.
Rita's attempt to drug Madsen's coffee knocks out copilot Johnny Martin (Carlyle Moore Jr.) instead. Then a dust storm comes up and all planes are ordered to land, but Madsen insists White keep flying until the dust makes the engines fail. When they do, White makes an emergency landing in Missouri. Madsen insists on leaving the plane 10 minutes before anyone else, and commandeers an elderly couple's farmhouse nearby, but then the other passengers and crew find the same house and are again taken hostage.
Eventually Madsen orders White to repair the engines and resume the flight. Brewer goes along to help, and while Madsen is watching White, he manages to repair the radio and call for police as well as filing his news story.
The other hostages are afraid enough of Madsen to remain in the house, which has no phone. As they pass the time viewing 3-D photos with a stereoscope, Rita realizes that Katie looks younger when seen through its red lens; Phelan then recognizes her as a second fugitive, Katie Dorne, disguised by red makeup. Rita then finds a way to arm herself and goes to confront Madsen, but he uses Brewer as a shield and shoots White, injuring him. Brewer then manages to overpower Madsen; Phelan arrives, recovers his handcuff key, and puts the cuffs on Madsen.
When the police arrive, Phelan also arrests Dorne, for murdering Duval. They had stolen $90,000 worth of bonds together, and Phelan had been following Duval to catch them both. She killed Duval because he had taken all the bonds. Madsen's presence on the same plane was coincidental.
White now assists with a smile as Brewer proposes to Rita; the two board the plane and begin kissing.Unbilled (in order of appearance)
Louise Stanley……...Alice, cashier at Los Angeles airport newsstand
Al Herman………Jimmy, attendant at Los Angeles airport
Ferdinand Schumann-Heink………attendant as plane lands at Albuquerque airport
Milton Kibbee………official at Kansas City airport
Dennis Moore………radio operator in St. Louis
Ralph Dunn………radio announcer with news about the grounded plane
Harry Fox………radio announcer with news about murder of a plane passenger
George Magrill………lawman who arrives by plane and greets Mike Phelan
"The story portrayed in this
production is fictitious, and
is not intended to represent
events which have taken place
on a commercial air line ……
Scheduled air transport, regulated
by the Department of Commerce,
is today recognized as a fast and
safe form of transportation."