The troubles facing a World War I British flying squadron with a high casualty rate. It's a somewhat conventional war movie that's a little rough around the edges as an early talkie, but wins you over with strong character work, especially from the leads Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Richard Barthelmess and Neil Hamilton. Although the film could use some scoring to enhance the experience (there's only a bit of diegetic music from the phonograph), there are two fantastic action sequences with stunning aerial photography and stunts, particularly the raid on the German camp. The handing over of power (and guilt) to a new commanding officer is an interesting device that I don't think I've seen explored in another film, at least not quite the same way. There are some flaws: a few poor performances and an over-reliance on clunky exposition (it makes me groan whenever I see someone on the phone repeating everything in question form: "What's that you say? We've got to take the bridge!?"). Although ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS is not a wartime film, I think it's a slightly better look at the camaraderie and the stakes among flyboys, largely thanks to the high-powered cast. But that doesn't mean this one isn't worthwhile, it definitely has some rewards.
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