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Only Angels Have Wings

Cary Grant , Jean Arthur , Howard Hawks    DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.54
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Hands down, Only Angels Have Wings is one of the most buoyantly entertaining movies in the American cinema. It is also a razor-sharp example of the action-oriented films of Howard Hawks, the wide-ranging auteur who would go on to make To Have and Have Not and Red River. This one is set in Barranca, a South American port city swathed in perpetual night fog, where a band of mail pilots struggle daily to get their planes through a treacherous mountain pass. They don't care about the mail so much as they live by the rules of adventure, professionalism, and friendly rivalry. Cary Grant is the leader of this daredevil group, a man who won't be pinned down to anything except his own code of stoicism. ("I don't believe in laying in a supply of anything," he says, which may be why he's always asking people for matches to light his cigarettes.) His cool style is tested by the arrival of a wisecracking blonde (Jean Arthur) and an ex-mistress (Rita Hayworth); Rita's now married to a pilot (Richard Barthelmess), disgraced by a single act of cowardice. Hawks always got great mileage from throwing a bunch of colorful characters together in an enclosed space, where death could strike in a moment. The great secret about Hawks is that although his feel for action was crackling, he was really more interested in the way people exchanged sidelong glances or lit each other's cigarettes--there's a lot of both in Only Angels Have Wings. --Robert Horton

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Most helpful customer reviews
By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
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."

BIOS:
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.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Testosterone poisoning Feb. 7 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I know this review will earn me boos, hisses, and "not helpful" votes, but my wife and I (both lovers of old movies) watched this a few nights back and frankly, we were baffled. Howard Hawks has made his share of movies with "men's men", but these characters are the most opaque and wooden I've ever seen! They are air-freight pilots delivering to the treacherous Andes mountain area, led by the normally charming (or at least interesting) Cary Grant. When the first pilot takes to air in the film (Noah Beery, I believe), you can hear in the inflection of his voice over the intercom that he seems resigned to his fate--the fog's closing in, and he's doomed to crash. Indeed he does, as do a number of the other pilots that follow in the film. The job doesn't seem to have any merits above its risks, and Jules Furthman's turgid script doesn't give us any hint as to why these men would risk their lives doing this job. It's implicit that flying IS their life, and there's this hunger that is satisfied only through this activity. But it's a tenet of the movie and a credo of the men that nothing needs to be explained, it's a man thing, and one just needs to move on. So what we get for "entertainment" almost borders on parody, as mission after mission goes awry, and the tight-lipped toughies muddle through. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Hollywood's Hidden Treasures! Aug. 4 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Only Angels Have Wings is one of those many hidden treasures, one that was never really discovered... but will always be remembered. Taking place in a South American port of call for local Bananna Boats-Barranca- in which a Dutchman, John van Rider (The Dutchman) who runs almost everything in town, owns an air mail service that-despite hazardous and blinding weather- always sends its mail (and pilots) out on time, so that new planes can be bought, which will help weather conditions. As I have mentioned, the weather is harmful, and many who are emplyed by the Dutchman are killed at one point or another. Out of the small gang of pilots (including John Carrol as Jent Shelton, in a minor but excellent role), one stands out; Cary Grant, who plays Jeff Carter, a once sensitive and caring man who was turned into a cynical, unhappy chappy after a harsh breakup. Running the airline, Jeff only goes out when he thinks it might be too hard for anyone else. Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur, in one of her first large roles)has just gotten of a Northbound boat to cool off for a couple of hours before the ship has loaded some bannanas and is ready to set out to sea. On the shore, she is met by two pilots who (after some trouble) manage to "get" her. Heartless Jeff sends one out for a delivery, contrary to a deal made between the two. Bonnie is shocked by Jeff's behavior. After deciding to come back when the fog is too much to bare, the pilot attepts a dangerous landing resulting in his death. Bonnie is shocked by how easily and rudely the bunch takes it. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Collective Greatness
I originally only watched this because Cary Grant was in it and I was curious to see the normal Rita Hayworth - I love Gelda but I think it's a shame she didn't just stop... Read more
Published on July 19 2007 by S. Lo
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated Hollywood Heroics
I wanted to like this movie, but I thought it was so dated as to just about cancel out the strong story line and how the story was crafted into a movie. Read more
Published on June 27 2004 by C. O. DeRiemer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great cast.good adventure film made in 1939
Format: Black & White
Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Video Release Date: February 5, 1992
Cast:
Cary Grant ... Geoff Carter
Jean Arthur ... Read more
Published on June 22 2004 by Joseph H Pierre
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Man's World
When we shuffle off to that fabled desert island I'll let you take CASABLANCA or CITIZEN KANE or any other Greatest American Film you care to name - I'll take ONLY ANGELS HAVE... Read more
Published on May 10 2004 by Steven Hellerstedt
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie has it all....
Only Angels Have Wings is a perfect example of an often ignored, but excellent, classic movie. Directed by Howard Hawks, and with a great cast, Only Angels Have Wings is half... Read more
Published on July 6 2002 by ehakus
4.0 out of 5 stars Still flys high six decades later
This is yet another great movie from the remarkable year, 1939. I've always been curious as to what plateau the movies would have wound up on had it not been for the devastating... Read more
Published on March 23 2002 by Matthew Horner
5.0 out of 5 stars A rousing and entertaining adventure film
This was the second dvd I bought ever and one of my favorites along with "Arsenic and Old Lace", also starring Cary Grant, but a whole different stuff. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2002 by Fernando Silva
5.0 out of 5 stars Neal E.
Simply one of the best films ever, and displays why Howard Hawks is one of the all time masters of the medium.
Published on July 19 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Classic, Glad Someone Recommended It!
First off, if you like Howard Hawks in general, or To Have and Have Not, you will love this movie. To have and have not lifts its entire plot line and much of its dialogue from... Read more
Published on July 27 2000 by Michael B.
4.0 out of 5 stars In context this is a very impressive movie.
This movie could serve as material for at least 10 hours of debate in a movie appreciation course. There are so many things to analize here. Read more
Published on July 7 2000 by Eduardo Middleton K.
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