(Review originally written at 11 April 2009)

During the late '30's and early '40's a lot of dramatic movies got made, by big name directors, often starring big name actors. Lots of them have grown into becoming classics but of course in a way they are also all sort of the same. "Only Angels Have Wings" is one of the more original ones though, due to its original settings and main concept.

The movie can be called an aeroplane drama, with plenty of adventurous and comedy elements involved. The entire movie is set at a small airport, with dozens of pilots, who do errants by plane for costumers and numerous other reasons. It's an unique original world that isn't handled too often in movies but it's quite intriguing really. It concept and settings provide the movie with plenty of great moments.

It's also a movie that is being made great by its characters and the actors which portray them. Great thing is that this movie has more than just a handful of great characters and big name actors portraying them. With Cary Grant it has a great leading man and with Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth the movie also has two more than great female actresses. Richard Barthelmess was also really great in this, in one of his talking roles. He is still best known for the work he made during the silent-era, especially the classics movies he did with director D.W. Griffith.

The movie also has a good story, that looks pretty formulaic on the surface but still works out better than usual because it knows how to blend several themes and also genres. The movie is not purely just a drama and not just purely an adventure movie or romantic one. It's a rather pleasant mix of it all that works out on basically all levels. The movie is also more pleasant and perhaps also easier to watch for today's modern audience than most of its other fellow genre movies.

The movie has some great sequences with its planes in it. Especially for its time it must have really been something to watch. The movie has some good stunt flying in it and also at times uses some pretty good looking early special effects. It also received an Oscar nomination for this, as well as for its black & white cinematography by multiple Oscar nominee Joseph Walker.

It's a movie that perhaps is not as well known as Howard Hawks's most other work but it's just as great and well worth watching. Hawks was a director who could handle many different genres just as well and with this movie he proofs and shows this once more, by letting several different genres and themes blend in extremely well with each other.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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