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Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 25 May 1939 (USA)
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.

Director:

Howard Hawks

Writer:

Jules Furthman (screen play)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cary Grant ... Geoff Carter
Jean Arthur ... Bonnie Lee
Richard Barthelmess ... Bat MacPherson
Rita Hayworth ... Judy MacPherson
Thomas Mitchell ... Kid Dabb
Allyn Joslyn ... Les Peters
Sig Ruman ... Dutchy (as Sig Rumann)
Victor Kilian ... Sparks
John Carroll ... Gent Shelton
Don 'Red' Barry ... Tex (as Donald Barry)
Noah Beery Jr. ... Joe Souther
Manuel Álvarez Maciste Manuel Álvarez Maciste ... The Singer (as Maciste)
Milissa Sierra Milissa Sierra ... Lily
Lucio Villegas Lucio Villegas ... Doctor
Pat Flaherty ... Mike
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Storyline

When the ship San Luis makes a stop at the port of Barranca, to deliver mailbags and load bananas, cabaret singer Bonnie Lee leaves the boat for some hours to look around. She meets a gang of American flyers, who works for a warm-hearted Dutchman. He is the owner of a scrubby hotel, but also of the shaky Barranca Airways, lead by the tough flyer Geoff Carter. The only way to fly out of Barranca is through a deep pass at 14.000 feet above the ground. As the weather is often stormy and foggy, the flights are extremely difficult, and several flyers have already lost their lives. Bonnie falls in love with Geoff, who reminds her of her father, a trapeze artist who worked without safety net. She decides to leave the boat and stay at the hotel. But Geoff is scared of being detained by a woman. He wants to continue his risky lifestyle uninterrupted. The situation is aggravated when a new flyer, Bat MacPherson, turns up with his wife Judy. He once caused the death of a young flyer, by leaving ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Thrilling As Love Born Amid A Thousand Fabulous Adventures! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

25 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,180,000, 31 December 1939
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the film's opening, the title is shown with double quotes and beginning with some sort of dash, all words lower-case except "angels": "-only Angels have wings" This is inconsistent with the 1939 era advertising that took place for the film, such as the trailer video, in which the film's title did not include any punctuation. See more »

Goofs

In the immediate aftermath of Joe's crash, distant shots show Bonnie with her left arm cocked at a right angle, but close shots show it limp at her side. See more »

Quotes

Bonnie Lee: How can you eat that?
Geoff Carter: What?
Bonnie Lee: Eat that steak.
Geoff Carter: Well, what's the matter with it?
Bonnie Lee: [referring to Joe] It was his!
Geoff Carter: Well, what do you want me to do, have it stuffed?
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Lady with the Torch (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Some of These Days
(1910) (uncredited)
Written by Shelton Brooks
Partially played on piano by Cary Grant and hummed and partially sung by John Carroll
Played on piano by Jean Arthur and accompanied by the restaurant band
See more »

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User Reviews

The last great World War I film
4 November 2002 | by mgmaxSee all my reviews

This movie makes much more sense when you put it in the context of early talkie World War I flying movies like Hawks' Today We Live or The Dawn Patrol or

Dieterle's The Last Flight (starring, not coincidentally, Richard Barthelmess). By 1939, with another war looming, audiences were long since sick of such tales, but by resetting the tale at a South American airport (where Cary Grant runs a mail service which is in danger of losing its contract), it was just barely possible to come up with a credible situation where Grant could again order his flyers to their deaths, and where death would be greeted with the callousness that

comes from knowing you're probably next and your best friend will eat your

steak for you. The reviewers who say Grant doesn't play it serious enough here are exactly missing the point-- his seemingly breezy, actually brittle facade IS the Lost Generation attitude, straight out of The Sun Also Rises.

This is one of the great tough romances, whose real romance is with death itself, which needless to say makes it several steps darker than Hawks' superficially similar To Have and Have Not, let alone Rio Bravo (which reproduces its main

characters almost exactly-- Grant as John Wayne, Arthur/Angie Dickinson as the woman trying to get into the boy's club, Barthelmess/Dean Martin as the guy

with a guilty past of failure, and Mitchell as the guy who age is catching up with/ Walter Brennan, old age fully caught up). In gleaming black and white on the DVD, the foggy, fake studio set and the silver skies might be the dreams of a pilot in the instant before his crash. Too grim a bite of caviar for the general, perhaps, but a testament for a generation that saw more than it could put on film, and one of the greatest works of art to sneak out of the studio system under

disguise of glamorous entertainment.


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