Great Air Robbery (1920)

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A band of aeroplane robbers, led by Van Arland (Ray Ripley), plan to steal $20,000 in gold, which is meant to be delivered to the Washington mint. But they weren't counting on the talents of aviator Larry Cassidy (Lieutenant Omar L. Locklear) of the U.S. mail service. Cassidy and another aviator, Wallie Mason (Allan Forrest), are tricked into revealing the air route, and Van Arland manages to fly off with the gold and the girl. But Cassidy pursues them and climbs a rope ladder from his plane to the villain's in mid-air. He captures Van Arland without much further ado and saves the day. This film was made in the days when flying was new and aviators were almost as glamorous as astronauts are today, but that doesn't mean that Universal Studios spent any extra money on it. Basically it was built around the one trick of having Locklear leap from one plane to another, and much of the other aerial footage comes from newsreels. In addition, war hero Locklear was no thespian; said Variety, "Locklear is about as competent a screen actor as a smoked herring."