Something of an unofficial companion piece to Martin Scorsese's 2004 box-office sensation The Aviator, the documentary The American Aviator: The Howard Hughes Story chronicles the life of the titular industrial overlord, cinematic giant, and aviation pioneer, from his wealthy upbringing in and around Houston, Texas, through the dawn of his Hollywood production career, to his descent into complete eccentricity and obscurity in the sixties and seventies. The docu places its strongest emphasis, however, on Hughes's above-ground feats, such as the construction of the Hughes H-1 Racer, the near-tragic July 1946 XF-11 spy plane crash, and the rise and fall of the Spruce Goose. The documentary is told in straightforward style as a linear narrative, leaning heavily on rare archival footage and contemporary interviews.
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