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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Only Angels Have Wings [DVD]
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on 27 August 2017
The plot of the film appears simple. Bonnie (Jean Arthur) finds herself in a bar while her boat is stopping over in South America. There, she meets Jeff (Cary Grant), a pilot who leads a team of fliers to deliver mail. Within the course of an evening she falls for him and decides to miss her boat and stick around. Only Jeff isn't too pleased. The romance, however, is secondary and less interesting than the story of the male fliers. It is sometimes difficult to understand how dangerous flying was in its infancy but this fact is brought home rather brutally in the first 30 minutes. There is a good cast of supporting characters, including: Richard Barthlemass as the pilot no one wants around, a young Rita Hayworth as Jeff's old flame, and especially Thomas Mitchell as The Kid, Jeff's best friend. Although, being a product of the studio era the setting is very much studio based there is some really good aerial photography and stunts that give the film a gripping and tense edge during the flying scenes. Also, the chemistry between Grant and Mitchell is brilliant, in many ways more so than the chemistry between Grant and Arthur. This is Grant's film. In his career he was more likely to be cast as the handsome, suarve man about town but he is both confident and convincing as the more rugged Jeff showing he was an actor of wide range. Overall, a brilliant example of classic Hollywood. The sound and picture transfer are also really good, especially considering the age of the film.
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on 9 February 2005
This review contains no plot-spoilers! For a film this old, it's a pleasant surprise to see the beautiful DVD print transfer. There's also superb sound (no hiss, no crackles, even through headphones). Right from the opening scenes, you know this is a film that is going to be good. Then Cary Grant walks in, and you know it's going to be superb. The atmosphere of the location is absolutely believable, within the limitations of the set design of the 1930s. The storyline is strong and character-based and the dialogue is sharp and witty. All the actors mesh perfectly. Yes, this is man's man's world; but because everyone "knows where they stand", men bond deeply, are tender with each other, and even cry too. One of those rare films, like Brief Encounter, in which every shot seems perfect and perfectly-placed. Of course, for those reared on post-Star Wars FX, there's a certain amount of suspension of disbelief needed - but I defy you not to awed on the single-shot on-location scene in which a plane swings around an immense desert mesa and then lands.
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on 26 November 2012
This movie actually belongs in a sub-sub-genre of films of the period which has not got a name. Here's the plot of them all.
Burly masculine man's man in charge of some hazardous commercial venture in a far flung place.
In walks kooky, free-spirited, sassy but sexy travelling gal and falls for aforementioned chap. She is initilly spurned which just makes her want alpha male even more. He relents and some intimacy follows. Then in walks cool, beautiful reserved woman and alpha-male switches his attentions. Kooky girl gets all teary -eyed and jealous.
I'll leave the ending - but it's always the same.
This is a cracker with Cary Grant as a commercial air freight manager in South America somewhere. He's a hard drinking,rough talking, big ape with a solid moral core who loves his men and they love him.
Based on Red Dust the 1932 Clark Gable classic, cleaned up a bit, but still a wonderful example of this type of set-up. It is , for some reason, an entirely satisfying dynamic. Maybe because it is so often found in real life.
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on 14 November 2011
Columbia Pictures presents "ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS" (1939) (121 min/B&W) -- Starring: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth & Thomas Mitchell

Directed by Howard Hawks

While waiting for her boat, Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur) stops at a small airport in South America. The pilots there deliver mail over a dangerous and usually foggy mountain pass. Geoff Carter (Cary Grant), the lead flyer, seems distant and cold as Bonnie tries to get closer to him. Things heat up as Judy MacPherson (Rita Hayworth), Geoff's old flame, shows up with her husband Bat MacPherson (Richard Barthelmess) who is an infamous pilot.

Scripted by Jules Furthman from a story by Hawks, 'Only Angels Have Wings' is a treasure trove of terse, pithy dialogue: one favorite scene occurs when, upon discovering that he's about to die, Thomas Mitchell says he's often wondered how he'd react to imminent death-and, now that death is but a few moments away, he'd rather that no one else be around to witness his reaction.

Good score by the great composer Dimitri Tiomkin.

Special footnote: ~ Howard Hawks remembers: "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."

1. Howard Hawks (Director)
Date of Birth: 30 May 1896 - Goshen, Indiana
Date of Death: 26 December 1977 - Palm Springs, California

2. Cary Grant [aka: Archibald Alexander Leach]
Date of Birth: 18 January 1904 - Horfield, Bristol, England, UK
Date of Death: 29 November 1986 - Davenport, Iowa

3. Jean Arthur [aka: Gladys Georgianna Greene]
Date of Birth: 17 October 1900 - Plattsburgh, New York
Date of Death: 19 June 1991 - Carmel, California

4. Richard Barthelmess
Date of Birth: 9 May 1895 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 17 August 1963 - Southampton, New York

5. Rita Hayworth [aka: Margarita Carmen Cansino]
Date of Birth: 17 October 1918 - Brooklyn, New York
Date of Death: 14 May 1987 - New York City, New York

6. Thomas Mitchell
Date of Birth: 11 July 1892, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Date of Death: 17 December 1962, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 121 min on DVD ~ Columbia Pictures ~ (August 31, 1999)
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on 16 May 2011
The film, alas not me. This is a wonderful old story, which was used as a base for the 1980s television series 'Tales of the Gold Monkey'. I bought this film because of this link, my two children, 9 and 12, love TGM and I thought this would be a nice foray into black and white. I was right, they loved it. This is a classic story with high adventure in the days before CGI. It's nice to see that, given the chance, the younger generation can appreciate a good story and leave their imaginations to fill in the details.
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on 19 November 2013
This is a good entertainment film. Good story, actors and acting. Very good for Cary Grant fans and with a touch nostalgia for the older viewers.
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on 20 April 2008
This movie holds up well enough in the 21st century. The effects are dated (not CGI but what is less convincing now?) but fit well with the B/W cinematography, the plot (no longeurs) and the ensemble acting. Grant not in his trade mark lounge suit but hey we've got Rita Heyworth! Jean Arthur taking billing over Hayworth, but not for long,to be remembered in Shane. And a still exciting ending predating "Wages of Fear". A welcome addition to collectors of those glamorous films of the 30's.
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on 20 May 2016
Quite a good film, worth a viewing.
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on 16 August 2016
I Originally borrowed this film due to the many outstanding reviews, God what a let down when I watched it, was it meant to be a Drama, Comedy or Romance ? A Story that played out a nonsensical plot, peculiar corny performances especially between Cary Grant & Jean Arthur and don’t they chat made worse with Cary Grants wooden & monotonous dialect, no disrespect he was ok for ‘North By Northwest’ but that was Hitchcock..... this film couldn't hold a candle to many a Classic of
that period with James Cagney, Clark Gable, Glen Ford or Edward G. Robinson for example, Amazing so many could give this film 5 Stars !!
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on 18 February 2010
Is the fate of Hawks, along with Ford and Capra, director of the largest imaginary traditional Hollywood. It is rare for him to create the prototypes of all kinds, but is almost always the one to fine-tune models insurmountable. There were several films firstdealing with civil aviation (as Air mail of John Ford, for example) but before this, everyone else seems more or less successful imitations. Punctuated by a relentless succession of night and day, punctuated by small gestures that give a subtle musicality Skin (light his cigarette from the person seizing it), has all the characteristics which make it unmistakably a film by Hawks, the director who has never made shot that possessed the vulgarity of his signature, while impressing the entire film is a suspicion of sentimentality that makes it "one of his most melancholy and romantic fantasies" (Molly Haskell). What makes it so typical of its author? The uniqueness of the place where it runs throughout (an airstrip, an office and a bar) as in many of his films, the strong camaraderie of a group subject of the narrative, action driven by dialogue, the dialectic of the sexes which always males and females fight for dominance not only mutual pleasure but a kind of organic. Film of cruel humor, grief and seduction impending fierce, is one in which, perhaps more than elsewhere, Hawks ventured to tell his life: only the danger and imminence of death justifies the respect and redeem the cynicism of men; after the battle of the sexes is possible to love, even in an airport lost in the mists of South America. In such a mechanism also actors would do any good figure, but Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth, and Thomas Mitchell are not the kind of players that leave their marks in the shot. And it shows.
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