Hell's Angels (1930) Poster



More than 70 pilots were used in the film. Three of them died during shooting.
Stunt pilots refused to perform an aerial sequence that director Howard Hughes wanted. Hughes, a noted aviator himself, did his own flying. He got the shot, but he also crashed the plane.
Entire film had been filmed as a silent, minus a soundtrack, by Howard Hughes in 1928. Greta Nissen had the role played later by Jean Harlow. When sound equipment became available Hughes decided to re-shoot the whole film as a talkie.
An eight-minute two-strip Technicolor sequence remains the only surviving color footage of its star, Jean Harlow.
This film cost $3.8 million, so expensive that it made no profit on its first release.
Although it has been reported that Hughes re-shot all the silent material, that seems unlikely looking at the footage shot in the dirigible. The voices are out-of-sync and some of the action seems hurried, suggesting it was shot at a silent speed of 18 frames per second, rather than 24 fps sound speed and dubbed later.
249 feet of film were shot for every foot used in the final cut.
Howard Hughes had all the prints tinted and hand-colored before releasing them for general distribution.
Was the most expensive movie ever made at the time of its release.
Howard Hughes hired WWI aces to fly the planes but also flew one himself; he crashed shortly after his first takeoff and broke several bones.
Stunt pilot Clement K. Phillips was killed in a crash in Hayward, California, while delivering one of the airplanes to the Oakland location.
Pre-Production Code audiences gasped at the language of the pilots during the dogfight scenes with Baldy screaming "son of a Bosch!" at the Germans and Monte cursing "son of a bee!".
All color prints of the movie were thought to be lost until a print was found in John Wayne's personal vault in 1989, ten years after the actor's death, by his son Michael Wayne. That explains why the younger Wayne's name appears on the credits of the restored version. It is possible that Wayne received the print from the film's producer/director, Howard Hughes. The actor starred in Jet Pilot (1957) for Hughes in 1949, but the film was not released until 1957 because Hughes continued to have the flying sequences re-shot, a situation not unlike this film.
Thelma Todd had a supporting role which was eventually written out of the script.
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