The Aviator (2004)

For some men, the sky was the limit. For him, it was just the beginning.

Plot outline

A biopic depicting the early years of legendary Director and aviator Howard Hughes' career from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s.

Personal notes




A biopic depicting the early years of legendary Director and aviator Howard Hughes' career from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s. - Howard Hughes

Biopic of billionaire Howard Hughes, starting with his early filmmaking years as owner of R.K.O. Pictures, but mostly focusing on his role in designing and promoting new aircraft. Hughes was a risk-taker spending several fortunes on designing experimental aircraft and eventually founding TWA as a rival to Pan Am airlines owned by his great rival Juan Trippe. When Trippe's politico Senator Ralph Owen Brewster accuses Hughes of being a war profiteer, it's Hughes who gains the upper hand. Hughes also had many women in his life including a long relationship with Katharine Hepburn. From an early age, however, Hughes was also germophobic and would have severe bouts of mental illness. - Howard Hughes

Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood movies such as "Hell's Angels (1930)", a passionate lover of Hollywood's leading ladies Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner, and an aviation pioneer who helps build TWA into a major airline. But in private, Hughes remains tormented, suffering from paralyzing phobias and depression. The higher he rises, the farther has to fall. - Howard Hughes

Texan oil fortune heir Howard Hughes refuses to wisely invest and enjoy his millions, preferring to riskily spend on his passions: airplanes and Hollywood, so in the 1930s he produces an unprecedented air combat blockbuster Hell Angels which he keeps improving to staff's despair, with Katherine Hepburn as bonus lover. He moves on to improving airplane design and running airline TWA, the sole US-overseas challenger for PanAm. His germophobia gets utterly out of hand and test-piloting himself nearly breaks every bone is his body, but the worst challenge comes from senator Ralph Owen Brewster, who uses the FBI to threaten Hughes with ruin and public exposure as 'war profiteer' unless he accepts personal friend Juan Trippe's company PanAm being given a virtual monopoly on international flights. - KGF Vissers

The script begins as a young Hughes directs one of Director Martin Scorsese's favorite movies, Hell's Angels (1930). Hughes was so obsessed with perfection in the aerial sequences that he waits forever for perfect conditions, right down to cloud formations. This movie ends in 1946, when Hughes was still a dashing young man and romancing actresses like Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn. - Hell's Angels (1930)

Phenomenal public success contrasts with private behaviors close to madness: Howard Hughes from the late 1920s to the late 1940s, from "Hell's Angels (1930)" (spending a fortune on details) through the only flight of the Hercules, a huge, money-losing transport plane. Along the way, the public Hughes sees the big picture, in movies and in aviation, building TWA and leading it through a fight with Pan Am and the U.S. Senate. In private, phobias and compulsions threaten him with self-imposed solitary confinement. How long can his imagination, drive, and the sympathies of Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and the men who work for him stave off these internal disorders? - Howard Hughes

Focusing on his early years (from the 1930 production of Hell's Angels (1930), to the 1947 test flight of the Spruce Goose, when he was forty-two), this is the story of how young Howard Hughes transformed a small fortune into a massive one. The son of the Texan inventor of an amazing drill bit who died when he was eighteen, leaving him with seventy-five percent of the "Hughes Tool Co.", Howard Hughes quickly moved to Los Angeles to become a Hollywood movie producer, where he helped launch the career of Jean Harlow and other starlets, and producing such classics as Hell's Angels (1930), The Front Page (1931), Flying Leathernecks (1951), and Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932), eventually owning R.K.O. Pictures. Hughes' legend came not from focusing on just Hollywood, however, as he simultaneously branched into industry after industry, including aviation in 1932 (including TWA Airlines), and during World War II, defense, leading to the creation of the Spruce Goose, a flying boat of immense size. After World War II, Hughes' expansions continued, with an electronics company that was integral to the evolution of the satellite, and Hughes' several Las Vegas casinos (though this movie may be ending before he moves there). This movie also focuses on Hughes' romances with Hollywood stars like Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner. - Hell's Angels (1930)