Criterion Confessions: ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS - #
In this, Only Angels Have Wings also prefigures film noir, and even the writing stays true to its main character's principles right to the end. He should've either focused on the relationship between Cary Grant and The women in this movie were wasted and by the end I forgot they were even in the movie. 'Only Angels Have Wings' is a fine film but I felt Cary Grant was slightly. Only Angels Have Wings, the film playing at the New Beverly on March 24th and 25th, sits squarely within his films about masculinity and male relationships and that is where the power of it . Enjoy this film from credits to end.
That generation of seat-of-the-pants fliers like Lindy and Amelia Earhart, the Granville Brothers, and Bessie Coleman, were still part of the American popular culture; though some of them had already been killed in their daring exploits.
These were still the days when airplane flight brought out the press and the newsreels cameras, where records made for huge headlines and parades. Most people alive in could remember a time when there were no airplanes. Have a listen to the show herenow in public domain, at the Internet Archive site. Scroll down the year until you get to May 29th.
This was not a movie stunt, this was real life. The four propeller engine plane held a crew of 14 and could carry 74 passengers, and the mail. The world suddenly got smaller, and inter-continental travel got easier if you consider a hour flight in a propeller plane easy. Hawks did not intend that. Consider how the pilots wear their holstered side arms below the belts of their high-waisted pants, their cuffs rolled up to show their boots.
Black leather jackets with faded World War I insignia, and broad-brimmed straw hats to suggest a rakishness that is permissible in a area of law by mutual consent, opportunities built on enormous risks, too much liquor and a few carefully chosen by the director, at least women.
Here in this world of rattan shades and bamboo furniture, tropical birds and strumming guitars, Cary Grant is boss of a fledging airline running mail from a small port city of Barranca you know you want to say it.
We are in South America, and the only premonition we get of the war to come is the Latin American music, which will have a huge impact beginning in the next year when after war broke out in Europe, we strengthened military and commercial ties with Latin America. The samba and the rumba were not far behind. Jean Arthur stumbles into Barranca off a tramp steamer one tropical night that delivers a handful of passengers, and cargo, and mail for the plane.
She is a piano player, who has left her last troupe of entertainers in Panama. She is courageous enough to explore and appreciate. Cary Grant and his boys only buy drinks for, and we assume, sleep with, local girls from time to time.
Their clubhouse is an island unto itself.
An American fantasy. Grant reaches into his wallet to donate money to the sister of a killed pilot, he offers American greenbacks. In a country where U. Two happy go lucky fliers chat up Jean and bring her to their clubhouse for drinks and steaks, and take turns flirting with her.
One, played by a young Noah Beery, Jr. Jean Arthur, sassy and street smart, is crushed by this tragedy, and finds herself equally exasperated with, and attracted to, flippant Cary Grant.
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Grant plays the cynical, smart aleck leader. It would be interesting to have seen Humphrey Bogart in the role, to have his calm stoicism play against a jittery Jean Arthur. He would have given the character a soulfulness, a back story of pain and hard luck just in his glance. Bogie always walks in the door with his own back story, the way some actors might show up for auditions with their own costumes.
He is really a condescending rogue. And Bogart had not yet reached his "hero" stage; he was still a thug in Some reviewers have suggested over the years that Grant was miscast in this role, but I disagree. It is also true that at times in "Only Angels Have Wngs" his character seems just a little too forced into the straightjacket of Howard Hawks' alpha male: There is no back story to read in his face and his manner, the way we can with Richard Barthlemess and all the other minor characters.
It is as if at times the handsome veneer is vacant. Still, Grant in this role of the leader of this band of fliers is fun to watch, and he pulls off something that I don't think any other male star of his day could do as well. There is an inkling of brittleness to his bravado that is intriguing. It would seem the American pilots have a similar homesickness, as they are all ready to have their heads turned by the visitor. This proves disastrous, however; Bonnie has picked the wrong night to visit the airfield.
The scene in which Geoff and his right-hand man, Kid Thomas Mitchell, Make Way for Tomorrow [ review ], Stagecoach [ review ]try to guide the doomed flyer back to base is the first of many bravura sequences that Hawks delivers in Only Angels Have Wings. Only Angels Have Wings has our attention. Hawks is patient, taking his time with the scene, knowing that a quicker release would have far less impact.
A year later, Hawks would make movie history with His Girl Fridaywhen he famously had his actors including Cary Grant perform the script at twice the accepted pace.
Here, however, he is not concerned about getting through the material quickly. At times, Only Angels Have Wings appears shaggy.
It is episodic rather than plot heavy. In the camaraderie amongst the pilots, Hawks achieves a surprising realism, letting the conversations follow a natural course and somehow capturing the performances in such a way that they appear, if not improvised, at least unrehearsed.
Only Angels Have Wings () directed by Howard Hawks • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd
And how is that defined? Some critics, like Peter Wollen, have criticized it as involving unfair portrayals of women, while others like the above Truffaut quote have praised it as being entirely without fault. Where does that leave the Hawks landscape? Only Angels Have Wings, the film playing at the New Beverly on March 24th and 25thsits squarely within his films about masculinity and male relationships and that is where the power of it lies.
Only Angels Have Wings
This film has a great deal of heart. Only Angels Have Wings is a crushingly real film with perfect comic timing throughout.
Focusing on a desperate little trading company and airfield in a small South American town, the viewer meets several fliers who become instantly enamored of the beautiful Bonnie Jean Arthur who has just come to town.
Bonnie attempts to help, but Geoff, like many Hawksian protagonists, is a highly private and evasive man, refusing any assistance, especially that of a woman who might be able to see his vulnerabilities. The friendships in Rio Bravo or Red Riverthe dedication to craft and reliance on your buddies as in Ceiling Zero