ming movie reviews

in about 100 words or less

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

US 121m, B&W
Director: Howard Hawks; Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Thomas Mitchell, Rita Hayworth

Only Angels Have WingsOnly Angels Have Wings is a thoughtful drama about camaraderie among a group of professional pilots working for a small airline operating in a small South American town. Their nearly profitable company is operated by a seemingly reckless manager played by Grant, who like his fellow pilots, uses humor and drink to deal with the loss of life which comes with the inherent dangers of their profession. Similar in theme to Hawks 1930 film, The Dawn Patrol, Only Angels Have Wings is also a story about love and friendship and the risks we dare to take in the pursuit of our dreams. Though a heart-warming and adventurous tale for the 1930s, the plot and pacing is a little slow by today’s standards (Klaus Ming November 2013).

3 comments on “Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

  1. Anthony Lee Collins

    Excellent film. You have to get on its wavelength, but then it’s terrific. Jean Arthur’s character was like a first draft of Bacall in To Have and Have Not. The dialogue was sharp (of course it was, it was by Hawks and Furthman), and the whole cast is great (except for Hayworth, who is very clearly the rookie on a team of long-time pros).

    Add can we talk about the year Thomas Mitchell had in 1939? There’s this (in which he’s great), Stagecoach (in which he was maybe even better and for which he won the Oscar), plus The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and a small flick named Gone with the Wind. I’ve seen this cited as the best year any actor has ever had.

    • Klaus

      Unfortunately my viewing of this film was interrupted on a number of occasions, which left it feeling a bit disjointed. As for 1939, it may well have been the best year in movies ever, and Mitchell was certainly a large part of it!

  2. TSorensen

    Grant was awesome and this was one of his better films. I like the grit in it. This is serious business for hard men flying those planes and what is a dame to do in that world? The plane scenes were very well done for 1939.

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This entry was posted on 11/11/2013 by in 1001 List, 1930s, All and tagged .
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