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Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

 -  Adventure | Drama  -  15 May 1939 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 7,220 users  
Reviews: 62 user | 52 critic

At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots' lives in order to win an important contract.

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Title: Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Bat Mac Pherson
...
Judy MacPherson
...
Allyn Joslyn ...
Sig Ruman ...
Dutchy (as Sig Rumann)
Victor Kilian ...
Sparks
John Carroll ...
Gent Shelton
...
Tex (as Donald Barry)
...
Joe Souther
Manuel Álvarez Maciste ...
The Singer (as Maciste)
Milisa Sierra ...
Lily (as Milissa Sierra)
Lucio Villegas ...
Doctor
...
Mike
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Storyline

When the ship San Luis makes a stop at the port of Barranca, to deliver mailbags and load bananas, cabaret singer Bonnie Lee leaves the boat for some hours to look around. She meets a gang of American flyers, who works for a warm-hearted Dutchman. He is the owner of a scrubby hotel, but also of the shaky Barranca Airways, lead by the tough flyer Geoff Carter. The only way to fly out of Barranca is through a deep pass at 14.000 feet above the ground. As the weather is often stormy and foggy, the flights are extremely difficult, and several flyers have already lost their lives. Bonnie falls in love with Geoff, who reminds her of her father, a trapeze artist who worked without safety net. She decides to leave the boat and stay at the hotel. But Geoff is scared of being detained by a woman. He wants to continue his risky lifestyle uninterrupted. The situation is aggravated when a new flyer, Bat MacPherson, turns up with his wife Judy. He once caused the death of a young flyer, by leaving ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Thrilling As Love Born Amid A Thousand Fabulous Adventures! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

15 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dutchy's statements about flying, "Include me out," is a quote from Samuel Goldwyn. It is one of many malapropisms attributed to him. See more »

Goofs

When McPherson takes off with the patient, the chimney smoke shows he's taking off with the wind instead of against the wind. Taking off against the wind would increase his relative speed and help him take off. See more »

Quotes

Kid Dabb: The only thing I can tell you about him, he's a good guy for gals to stay away from.
See more »

Connections

References The Last Flight (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Gwine to Rune All Night
aka "De Camptown Races" (1850)
Written by Stephen Foster
Piano background music played in the restaurant
See more »

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User Reviews

The last great World War I film
4 November 2002 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

This movie makes much more sense when you put it in the context of early talkie World War I flying movies like Hawks' Today We Live or The Dawn Patrol or

Dieterle's The Last Flight (starring, not coincidentally, Richard Barthelmess). By 1939, with another war looming, audiences were long since sick of such tales, but by resetting the tale at a South American airport (where Cary Grant runs a mail service which is in danger of losing its contract), it was just barely possible to come up with a credible situation where Grant could again order his flyers to their deaths, and where death would be greeted with the callousness that

comes from knowing you're probably next and your best friend will eat your

steak for you. The reviewers who say Grant doesn't play it serious enough here are exactly missing the point-- his seemingly breezy, actually brittle facade IS the Lost Generation attitude, straight out of The Sun Also Rises.

This is one of the great tough romances, whose real romance is with death itself, which needless to say makes it several steps darker than Hawks' superficially similar To Have and Have Not, let alone Rio Bravo (which reproduces its main

characters almost exactly-- Grant as John Wayne, Arthur/Angie Dickinson as the woman trying to get into the boy's club, Barthelmess/Dean Martin as the guy

with a guilty past of failure, and Mitchell as the guy who age is catching up with/ Walter Brennan, old age fully caught up). In gleaming black and white on the DVD, the foggy, fake studio set and the silver skies might be the dreams of a pilot in the instant before his crash. Too grim a bite of caviar for the general, perhaps, but a testament for a generation that saw more than it could put on film, and one of the greatest works of art to sneak out of the studio system under

disguise of glamorous entertainment.


32 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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