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Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama  |  15 May 1939 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 8,022 users  
Reviews: 64 user | 68 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

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Powerful as a tropical storm! 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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Richard Barthelmess had deep scars that resulted from an infection due to plastic surgery. The only way to cover them up was with heavy make-up, but Howard Hawks convinced him to leave them the way they were because "those scars tell the story and are important to your character." Hawks also removed planks to make Barthelmess appear smaller, to reflect his character's inferiority among his fellow pilots. See more »

Goofs

In the immediate aftermath of Joe's crash, distant shots show Bonnie with her left arm cocked at a right angle, but close shots show it limp at her side. 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

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Toutes les histoires (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

The Arkansas Traveler
Written by Sanford Faulkner
Piano background music played in the restaurant
See more »

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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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