Ever since I got my first gas powered P-51 Mustang control line model in 1962 for Christmas, airplanes, especially fast vintage ones have always had a great attraction to me. When I saw the Hughes H-1 racer spotlighted in the previews of The Aviator, well, I was smitten to see this movie with great anticipation. Just look at her here, who wouldn’t want to see this beauty slicing the sky! The main attraction, the star of the movie for me though was Jack Frye and his character played by Danny Houston. I had read many accounts, watched documentaries about Howard Hughes as most people have, so there were no real new-news items about him I was looking for. Movies tend to bend the edges a little bit to keep the viewers attention, and the movie goers shouldn’t be too surprised to see real personalities played out into somebody other than they really are. But as this movie unfolded before my eyes, I noticed some great disparaging role-reversals with both the Howard Hughes character played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and especially the Jack Frye character by Houston.
In a nutshell, the screenwriter and producers made Jack look like a yes-man and Howard as the man in-charge of TWA when in fact that wasn’t the case by any stretch of the imagination. To set the record straight up front, Jack Frye was the powerful empire building president sporting a big cigar and his Texas bravado with class and gentlemanly style. It was Jack Frye’s vision and his dedicated employees since 1923 beginning with Aero Corp., that led up to making TWA the global airline powerhouse it was. Hughes just supplied the funding. And best of all, Jack Frye did it all while genuinely caring about his employees and his patrons. A trait that is lost today! This is not meant to take away from the massive talents of the actors and its director Mr. Scorsese as I truly enjoy many of his works on the big screen. It is only meant to dispel gross mis-characterizations of one of Americas great aviation pioneers who is still fighting to be recognized for who and what He was. I hope this will help in preserving his legacy.
Shortly after this video clip in the movie, Hughes says he wants to buy T&WA. The director made Frye appear surprised Hughes would ask this question when in actuality Jack Frye and Paul Richter flew out to California and had a meeting with Howard to invite him to buy into the company. This is all documented on this blog and in the history books. And when they show Hughes walking away from Frye and he says to Howard, “Are you sure, don’t you want to think about it a minute?” It floored me to see Frye in a fictional subservient stance!
Whoever does the new movie about the Frye legacy, I hope they at least get it half right and refrain from character assassination as seen here. Jack Frye's true story and his magnetic personality is sufficient to produce a great piece of cinema to the masses. It ought to be a recapturing story of glamour, politics, invention and heroism that explores conquering man's limitations in the sky. An inspirational story of his vision and love for his company, and his family. For this is the real Jack Frye. Thank you for taking the time, I hope you have learned something new...