The Jazz Pilot or Flying Above The Stars (part 2)

An outline television series based on the life of Roger Wolfe Kahn, dance band leader turned pilot

Before main title and credits: Roger, barely out of his teens, in white tie and tails as a bandleader at a private dance. Opulent surroundings, lit only by artificial lighting. Opulent, glamorous people dancing or listening to the band.

ON Roger’s hands wielding the baton – beautifully manicured. The band perform an uptempo number, “Crazy Rhythm”, faultlessly. Great applause at the end. Roger bows and acknowledges the band, but quickly scuttles away ahead of the rest of them.

Walking at a fast pace in the corridors of the big house of the host of the dance, Roger furiously divests himself of white tie and tails. Jeeves, his gentlemen’s personal gentleman, picks them up. (Yes, it will later turn out to be the famous Jeeves. See below.) We see that Roger is wearing the first layer of a flying suit.

We hear the strains of “Crazy Rhythm” again, just slightly off-tempo.
Roger expresses his surprise to Jeeves that listeners can’t get enough of “Crazy Rhythm” when the show it came from (“Here’s Howe”) folded after a few months. Jeeves assures him that it is a most engaging number. Roger listens for a few seconds, and then remarks that it proves the critics right – the band don’t need to follow his baton. Jeeves assures him again: the trained ear recognizes the difference at once for the second, conductorless performance is much looser.

By now they have reached a hut by the house’s private airfield. Watched by the co-pilot, Jeeves helps Roger into the rest of his flying kit. Meticulously he adjusts a scarf and points out a small error in the cuffs, which Roger adjusts. He will see Roger again in the city. With genuine feeling under his reserve, he wishes Roger a safe flight. All the while “Crazy Rhythm” is still playing in the background.

Roger and the co-pilot complete the final checks on the aeroplane. Luxurious by the standards of 1928 but amazingly fragile by the standards of the present day. ON Roger in the pilot’s seat. ON his hands still manicured, caressing the instruments before he puts on his gloves. “Crazy Rhythm” segues slowly into the sound of aircraft engines as the aeroplane takes off.

ON Roger and the co-pilot as the aeroplane gains height. The co-pilot remarks on the fine display of stars. Roger replies that when he was a boy he wanted to fly above the stars. The co-pilot comments that he’s above them now and cites some of the stars at the party. Norma Shearer and Clara Bow were all over Roger. He replies simply: look how small the mansion seems from here. And you can’t see the people inside. The co-pilot presses him. He gives more names – Gloria Swanson, Dolores Del Rio. Didn’t Roger even speak to them? No, only about requests for numbers. But there is one thing Roger forgot to say to all the celebrities there. What? asks the co-pilot. “I never said goodbye” – he turns the aeroplane around and does a daring dive over the mansion.


Main title and credits
Engine segues back into other Roger Wolfe Khan performances.
Still ON the aeroplane as it flies past towns and cities. In each place, at ground level, we see posters advertising a different Roger Wolfe Kahn orchestra.

06. May 2022 by rkh
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