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Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies

Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies
Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies poster
Directed by John Erman
Produced by James Cresson
Robert Fryer
Screenplay by Claudia Salter
Story by Steven Spielberg
Starring Cliff Robertson
Pamela Franklin
Eric Shea
Bernadette Peters
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography David M. Walsh
Edited by Robert Belcher
Lou Lombardo
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates April 1, 1973 (1973-04-01)
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3,350,000[1]

Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies is a 1973 American adventure-comedy film, with a story by Steven Spielberg. The film centers on a barnstorming pilot (Cliff Robertson) and his son (Eric Shea) as they fly around the United States in the 1920s, and their adventures along the way.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Background 3
  • Production and response 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


In the early 1920s in Kansas, Eli is a barnstorming stunt pilot, whose wife was killed in an airplane crash. He and his 11 year old son, Rodger set off to fly around the country on a series of adventures. Wherever he lands Eli finds a new girlefriend, but likes one in particular, Shelby. He, however, does not form any permanent relationships. Rodger, who misses his deceased mother, continually helps out his father, even paying a prostitute (Allison). When Shelby leaves Eli, Rodger is saddened.



Steven Spielberg had developed the story of a flyer with a young son, containing themes that interested him: planes and flying and a parents' responsibility. Spielberg expected to be the screenwriter and director. However, the studio executives who had bought the story left the studio and the new executive turned the story over to another writer with a separate director.[2] Spielberg would not make a film for Twentieth Century Fox until 2002's Minority Report (even then, this was a co-production with DreamWorks).

Production and response

The original producers, writer and director disapproved of the film, which was extensively re-cut, and had their names removed. The film was shown with pseudonyms several years after it was filmed.[3][4]

Star Cliff Robertson was a pilot in real life.

The film's scenes that take place in the town of "Monument" were actually filmed in Mount Hope, Kansas.[5] At the time of the filming in 1972, there was an article in The Hutchinson News about Pamela Franklin, the English actress who played the character of Shelby. In this article, she talked about her experience of filming in a small Kansas town.

In his New York Times review, Vincent Canby wrote: "...the movie is ... a mess of unexplored moods and loose ends..."[4]

See also


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p257
  2. ^ "The Films of Steven Spielberg" (2000), Douglas Brode, p. 19, Citadel Press, ISBN 0-8065-1951-7
  3. ^ Eli and Rodger of the Skies (1969/1973)", retrieved March 20, 2010
  4. ^ a b Canby, Vincent.Review.New York Times, March 2, 1974
  5. ^ Filmed in Hutchinson and Haven, Kansas per Kansas Film Commission Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies filming.Kansas Film Commission (, retrieved March 20, 2010

External links

  • Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies at the Internet Movie Database
  • Brief synopsis and background, "New York Times"
  • at allmovie.comAce Eli and Rodger of the Skies
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