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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.

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(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
...
...
Sig Ruman ...
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:

Romance as glorious as the towering Andes! 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

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

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

Geoff Carter: You're a queer duck, Bonnie.
Bonnie Lee: Ah, so are you.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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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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