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.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.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.
New York showgirl Bonnie (Jean Arthur) is on a stop-over in small-town Barrance somewhere in South America. Here she meets Geoff (Cary Grant), the leader of a small band of mail pilots having to cross a perilous mountain pass on a daily basis, and casualties are to be expected. Within little more than ten minutes of screen-time the young man, who had asked Bonnie out to dinner, is dead in a spectacular crash scene, and from there on the plot and the action pick up space. Bonnie is dismayed by the way the dead pilot's colleagues seem not to care about his death, they just go about their business and pretend he was never there in the first place, so as not to be reminded of their own mortality. "Joe died flying", says Geoff. "That was his job. He just wasn't good enough. That's why he got it". Dismayed as she may be, though, Bonnie cannot leave, since she is falling in love with Geoff but fast.
In this confined space, made even more confined by the dense fog and pouring rain that characterize the local climate, the scene is set for one of Hawks' perceptive gatherings of a group of people to have us observe the dynamics of people interacting, different ethos at work in a seemingly laconic male environment, the love, the rivalry, the camaraderie. The fear. Further upsetting the close-knit community is the arrival of a new fryer (Richard Barthelmess in the best performance of his mature years) who has to prove himself doubly because once in his life he turned yellow. With him he has Rita Hayworth, Geoff's old girl-friend ...
This is quintessential Hawks, just in the way that Barthelmess' character has to strive to earn any ounce of respect from his peers. But in every frame it is a deserved classic, and great performances abound.
- Apr 29, 2005