6 user 7 critic

The Aviator (1985)

A 1920s mail pilot and a rich man's daughter crash-land on a mountain full of hungry wolves.


George Miller


Ernest K. Gann (based upon the book by) (as Ernest Gann), Marc Norman (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Reeve ... Edgar Anscombe
Rosanna Arquette ... Tillie Hansen
Jack Warden ... Moravia
Sam Wanamaker ... Bruno Hansen
Scott Wilson ... Jerry Stiller
Tyne Daly ... Evelyn Stiller
Marcia Strassman ... Rose Stiller
Will Hare ... Old Man
Robert Pierce ... Student Pilot
Glenn Neufeld Glenn Neufeld ... George Hansen
Frano Lasic Frano Lasic ... Daniel Hansen
Ron Travis Ron Travis ... Probosky
Jeff Harding ... Carson
Paul Reid Roman Paul Reid Roman ... Counterman
Paul Lichtman Paul Lichtman ... Customer


A 1920s mail pilot and a rich man's daughter crash-land on a mountain full of hungry wolves.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He is a veteran pilot, a man who has seen and done it all... But now, for the first time, he has a passenger. And his greatest adventure is about to begin...


Adventure | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The Boeing Stearman plane used in the film had his maiden flight in 1936. It can't have flown in the early 1920s. See more »


Moravia: [on the phone] I think that someday the world will be entirely populated with bureaucrats such as yourself because the real people will do away with themselves out of frustration!
See more »


Referenced in Wogan: Episode #3.4 (1984) See more »

User Reviews

A forgotten adventure / romance / drama film with skilled photography in the aviation sequences, and a touching performance from the eternal & beloved Superman...
20 July 2019 | by DeuceWild_77See all my reviews

Period piece drama based on the 1981 novel by Ernest K. Gann and directed by George T. Miller (not to be confused with the australian George Miller from "Mad Max" fame), "The Aviator" is a nicely shot film about aviation and its daring pilots delivering the air mail in the 1920's between the mountains of Elko, Nevada and Pasco, Washington.

Edgar Anscombe (Reeve, very good) is a Contract Air Mail aviator with a troubled past working for a War vet, Moravia (Jack Warden, strong support). Tillie Hansen (Rosanna Arquette, not so good, a bit hammy and almost irritating in some scenes), a rebellious and spoiled teenager, daughter of the owner of the aviation company, Bruno Hansen (Sam Wanamaker), was the last person that taciturn Edgar wanted as passenger in his airplane. They can't stand each other, but when the plane crash on a remote ridge, they must unite forces to survive the wilderness and its natural predators, a Wolf Pack thirsty for fresh meat...

Co-starred by Scott Wilson ("In Cold Blood") and Tyne Daly ("The Enforcer"), directed with heart, even if too schmaltz sometimes, almost entering into the realms of the TV movie melodrama, it's professionally photographed, especially the air sequences showing Reeve taking off and piloting the plane himself (the actor was a skilled pilot, thus contributing to the realism of his role here), it feels like a cross between the time period of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" ('81) with the charm and wittiness of "Romancing the Stone" ('84) and especially, "High Road to China" ('83), the aviation / adventure film starring Tom Selleck and Bess Armstrong, which "The Aviator" is quite often confused.

However, it differs in the sense that it is much more drama / romance oriented than the typical action / adventure film, a genre resurrected 4 years before due to the huge critical and B.O. success of the aforementioned "Raiders...". It also reminds a lot of "Hanover Street" ('79) starring Harrison Ford, Lesley-Ann Down & Christopher Plummer and Reeve's earlier success, the cult favorite time-travel mystery / romance / fantasy, "Somewhere in Time" ('80) sharing the screen with the beautiful Jane Seymour.

The screenplay is quite simple and straightforward and lacked some of the thrills that audiences were expecting from a new "Raiders..." spin-off, hence the critical and B.O. failure.

In short, "The Aviator" is a feel good and harmless little film, that deserved much better fate, it quickly disappeared from theaters, stalled Christopher Reeve's career as a leading man and became one of the forgotten gems from the 80's Era. Rewatching this makes me feel like a little kid again...

I give it a 7.5 !!

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Release Date:

15 March 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Aviator See more »

Filming Locations:

Croatia See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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