Ceiling Zero is an adaptation of the Broadway play by Frank "Spig" Wead. James Cagney and Pat O'Brien are supremely typecast as, respectively, Dizzy Davis, a cocky civil aviator and Jake Lee, a sober-sided ground commander. Dizzy ducks out of a dangerous mission in order to dally with pretty Tommy Thomas (June Travis). Texas Clark (Stuart Erwin) takes Dizzy's place, and the unpolished young pilot dies in a fiery wreck. Disgraced in the eyes of his co-workers after Clark's death, Dizzy redeems himself by taking a crucial test flight in fog-laden "ceiling zero." Dizzy dies a hero, leaving behind his pal Jake to deliver the eulogy. Isabel Jewell co-stars as Clark's wife, given yet another opportunity to shake the rafters with her emotionally supercharged acting. Ceiling Zero was remade in a wartime setting as International Squadron (1940).
by Hal Erickson synopsis