7.7/10
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66 user 84 critic

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 15 May 1939 (USA)
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.

Director:

Writer:

(screen play)

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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
...
...
...
Dutchy (as Sig Rumann)
Victor Kilian ...
Sparks
...
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 »


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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Calling Baranca" later became a recurring line in Looney Toons/Merrie Melodies cartoons. See more »

Goofs

It is not true that only angels have wings. Other things also have wings, including birds, airplanes, moths, pterodactyls, Voltron, the White House, and the NBC midweek comedy lineup for much of the 1990s. See more »

Quotes

Bonnie Lee: [Joe has just died and Bonnie is feeling guilty about his death] Mr. Carter? Mr. Carter? Do you really think... I mean... Do you really think it was my fault, what happened out there?
Geoff Carter: Sure it was your fault. You were gonna have dinner with him, the Dutchman hired him, I sent him up on schedule, the fog came in, a tree got in the way. All your fault. Forget it, unless you want the honor.
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Connections

Referenced in Stars of the Silver Screen: Rita Hayworth (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Some of These Days
(1910) (uncredited)
Written by Shelton Brooks
Partially played on piano by Cary Grant and hummed and partially sung by John Carroll
Played on piano by Jean Arthur and accompanied by the restaurant band
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User Reviews

 
A man's gotta do...
19 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This film is relentlessly male and relentlessly American. It functions brilliantly within the Hawksian "system" where male bonding is key, and where Woman is an outsider. Where romance is a minor part of life and where love is expressed through symbols and not through language. The group of professionals and their easy, jocular interaction is the beating heart of this film and all the group scenes are brilliantly directed. I also like the element of screwball comedy (a genre in which Hawks is one of the few masters) which presents itself in Grant and Arthur's "coffee" scene. It shows how much Hawks trusts his actors and his material in that he knows that such changes of tone can strengthen, rather than weaken, the key drama. I love this film even though its presentation of the world is not the one I'm the most sympathetic to. The film is not incredibly strong in psychological nuances - not when compared to directors like Sirk, Fuller, Welles, N. Ray, etc...and the basic tone is that of a stoicism which occasionally cracks (slightly) under pressure, but which almost immediately reestablishes itself. It's an attractive world view, but not one I'm incredibly comfortable with. There is no place here for ambiguity - not on any deep, non - localized level. I've been reading some Hawks interviews, and I now understand why Hawks was uncomfortable with being labeled an "artist". His attitude towards films and film-making is clearly the same as the attitude of the men in this film towards their work and their lives (and deaths). It's simple: you're either good enough or you're not, and you're only as good as your last flight. This identification between the man (Hawks) and his production (Only Angels Have Wings) helps to illuminate the greatness of the film, but it also explains its emotional and aesthetic limitations.


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