7.7/10
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Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 25 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:

Howard Hawks

Writer:

Jules Furthman (screen play)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cary Grant ... Geoff Carter
Jean Arthur ... Bonnie Lee
Richard Barthelmess ... Bat MacPherson
Rita Hayworth ... Judy MacPherson
Thomas Mitchell ... Kid Dabb
Allyn Joslyn ... Les Peters
Sig Ruman ... Dutchy (as Sig Rumann)
Victor Kilian ... Sparks
John Carroll ... Gent Shelton
Don 'Red' Barry ... Tex (as Donald Barry)
Noah Beery Jr. ... Joe Souther
Manuel Álvarez Maciste Manuel Álvarez Maciste ... The Singer (as Maciste)
Milisa Sierra Milisa Sierra ... Lily (as Milissa Sierra)
Lucio Villegas Lucio Villegas ... Doctor
Pat Flaherty ... 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:

BIG As The Fog-Shrouded Andes! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

25 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,180,000, 31 December 1939
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the role of Judy MacPherson, Howard Hawks screen-tested Dorothy Comingore, Rochelle Hudson and Rita Hayworth. He selected Hayworth because she had a face "that the camera likes." 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

Bonnie Lee: [Watching a plane taking off in the fog] Oh, that's the most wonderful thing I've ever seen.
Geoff Carter: Yes, reminded you of a great, big, beautiful bird, didn't it?
Bonnie Lee: No, it didn't at all. That's why its so wonderful. Its really a flying human being.
Geoff Carter: Well, you're right about one thing. A bird would have too much sense to fly in that kinda muck.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Rita Hayworth: The Columbia Lady (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Push 'em Up
(uncredited)
Written by Howard Jackson
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Howard Hawks on familiar territory with this aeroplane adventure/drama.
4 March 2008 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Geoff Carter is the head of a small run down air freight company in Barranca, one of his best pilots (and friend) is killed, but this is merely only one of the problems he has to deal with as ex flames, potential new sweethearts, and dissension in the camp, all fuse together to test him to the limit.

Howard Hawks was the perfect man for this film because of his aviation background, the result is a very well crafted character study set in a very small locale. Looking at it from the outside you would think that the film was lining up to be a soft soap romantic fable, but here the emotion is channelled into a sort of character bravado that is flawed - yet something that makes for a viewing experience that draws you in deep with the finely etched characters.

The cast are on fine form. Cary Grant gets to flex his non comedic muscles with great results as Carter, the film relies on Grant to glue the story together which he does with great aplomb. Jean Arthur & Rita Hayworth are the girls in amongst this strongly male orientated story, and it's a testament to both of the ladies ability that they don't get bogged down by all the macho heroism pouring out in the plot. Smart camera work and exciting aerial sequences further up the quality that is dotted within the piece, and were it not for some terribly twee dialogue, Only Angels Have Wings would surely be ranked as a classic of the 1930s. As it is, it's a wonderfully involving film that shows Hawks at his most humane. 8/10


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