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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 7,266 users  
Reviews: 62 user | 51 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

In this film, Richard Barthelmess plays a pilot who is shunned because he jumped out of a plane and left his mechanic to die. In The Last Flight (1931), he played a pilot who goes down with his plane to NOT leave his friend behind. See more »

Goofs

When Joe's plane clips the tree and loses the right wing, the plane rolls to the left. In fact, asymmetric lift would roll the aircraft to the right due to greater remaining airfoil surface on the left side. See more »

Quotes

Geoff Carter: You got the job.
Bat Kilgallen - MacPherson: Maybe I ought you pat you on the back.
Geoff Carter: You don't have to. Just do what I tell you to do.
Bat Kilgallen - MacPherson: You mean anything that's a little too tough for somebody else, huh?
Geoff Carter: Yeah, that's about it. Look, fella, I'm knee-deep in friends around here, but you're one guy I can send out in any kind of weather on any kind of job, and only worry about the ship getting back.
Bat Kilgallen - MacPherson: I see.
Geoff Carter: On those terms, you still want the job?
Bat Kilgallen - MacPherson: I don't know any other way I'd want it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004) 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

 
Not just another Hawks and Grant film - it's a lot more than meets the eye
14 October 2005 | by (sf, usa) – See all my reviews

This may be an overlooked Howard Hawks film. It's really a thoughtful film with substance under the guise of Hollywood famous stars and lively screenplay banters. Subject touches on death just 20 minutes into the film. Certainly no dull pacing. It has golden segments, like the exchanges between Grant and Barthelmess, Grant and Mitchell, Mitchell and Arthur, Arthur and Grant, and 10 minutes later, we see people gathered round by the piano singing songs and cajoling - not without sorrow beneath. Be not fooled, sentiments are there for friends passed away. It's not, but it is, a way of handling grief.

It's life, matter of fact and not hung up or lingering, simply moving on, devil may care, with boldness, dare, and risk-woe-begotten (or forgotten, for that matter). Men - one track-minded, to fly to deliver no-matter-what. Women - worry, or why worry. To love the man, much of letting go and let him be comes with the territory, even if it's Jean Arthur or Rita Hayworth. The story revolves around not just Cary Grant's Geoff leading the pack in the Andes, but also Thomas Mitchell's brother gone, Richard Barthelmess' past recur, Rita Hayworth's nostalgic fear, and the spunky, sentimental Jean Arthur's Bonnie wraps it all up. The supporting cast aptly contributes from the restaurant-hotel-mailing service owner, the lively South American accents and melody, to the pilots who are green and know not what peril is, and the lone fog-watcher and his donkey. Secrets revealed, conflicts challenged, and there's a growing promotion of trust through it all. Between business partners, colleagues, friendship or marriage - that unquestionable trust, without asking out loud but understood within - is what life and dare all about.

This film grew on me. I first saw it on cable TCM the latter half and couldn't wait to catch it again for the full story. Screenplay by Jules Furthman, music score by Dimitri Tiomkin, directed and produced by Howard Hawks, "Only Angels Have Wings" 1939 (available on DVD) is full of life, humor, drama, adventurous spirits, and non-stop exchange of word deliveries - entertaining, enjoyable, and heart-warming.


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