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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Howard Hawks remembered that when the movie was released, "a certain critic said 'It's the only picture Hawks ever made that didn't have any truth in it.' I wrote him a letter and said, 'Every blooming thing in that movie was true.' I knew the men that were in it and everything about it. But it was just where truth was stranger than fiction." See more »

Goofs

When Carter is shot by Jean Arthur's character, the hammer on the the revolver had not been drawn back. A revolver will not discharge from just being dropped on table unless it had been cocked; and even then it's not a certainty. See more »

Quotes

Kid Dabb: [watching Geoff try to land a damaged plane] He's gonna try to land!
Mike: He can't make it.
Les Peters: Not with that tail all smashed up. Not in a million years.
Kid Dabb: Get set for the crash, Mike!
Bonnie Lee: Why doesn't he jump?
Kid Dabb: Why? Why should he? He's made of rubber, he is. He wants to hit the ground to see how high he can bounce!
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Connections

Featured in The Men Who Made the Movies: Howard Hawks (1973) 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

 
Airplane Wings Are More Brittle Than Angel's
22 January 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The best film that Howard Hawks's Only Angels Have Wings can be compared to is Hawks's own Ceiling Zero. The former was adapted from the stage play by Spig Wead and for whatever reason Warner Brothers did not put in the kind of production values the A list cast from that film should have warranted. In my review for IMDb I said it was a photographed stage play.

Hawks seems to have made the corrections for the deficiencies of Ceiling Zero in this film. First of all he wrote the story for Only Angels Have Wings and made sure to put in enough action and he took the action away from the control room of that small airline in an unnamed South American country. He also cast the leads against type, Cary Grant as a cynical, existential Bogart like hero and Jean Arthur as the wise cracking show girl stranded in the tropics. A part that Rita Hayworth would play to perfection later on.

Rita's in this one as well, in the first substantial part in an A picture. She plays the wife of disgraced flier Richard Barthelmess and one of Cary Grant's old flames. According to a recent biography of Jean Arthur, she and Rita did not get along so well. Both of them are retiring types and each thought the other was being snooty to her. Arthur found that out later on and was far more cordial as was Rita. Arthur was also upset that the future glamor queen of America would get all the notice. Rita sure got enough of it.

But there were plaudits all around. Howard Hawks got great performances out of Grant and Arthur, expanding the range of both these talented people. Only Angels Have Wings is both a good character study and has a lot of drama as well.

And Cary Grant was far more successful at a Bogart type role than Bogey was in doing Sabrina.


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