in about 100 words or less
US 131m, B&W, Colour
Director: Howard Hughes; Cast: Ben Lyon, James Hall, Jean Harlow, John Darrow, Lucien Prival
Hell’s Angels is a complex and tragic action-filled melodrama about two British brothers who become fighter pilots during WWI. Monte is a philander who is always looking for the easy way out, while Roy is bound by honour and duty. Vying for the brother’s intentions is Helen, a lustful young woman who isn’t looking to settle down with any one man. Although notable for its terrific aerial combat shots, authentic bombing sequences, and colour photography, there are some inconsistencies in film quality and lip syncing, a consequence of the film’s transition from a silent to a sound production. Despite any deficiencies, Hell’s Angels is a remarkable film, not only for its technical achievements, but as a surprisingly authentic and shocking drama that likely bemused theater patrons in its lewdness, and with its mournful ending (Klaus Ming February 2016).