A traveling performer arrives at a remote South American port town where the head of an air freight service must risk his pilots' lives to earn a major contract.
Howard Hawks on familiar territory with this aeroplane adventure/drama. Geoff Carter is the head of a small run down air freight company in Barranca, one of his best pilots (and friend) is killed, but this is merely only one of the problems he has to deal with as ex flames, potential new sweethearts, and dissension in the camp, all fuse together to test him to the limit. Howard Hawks was the perfect man for this film because of his aviation background, the result is a very well crafted character study set in a very small locale. Looking at it from the outside you would think that the film was lining up to be a soft soap romantic fable, but here the emotion is channelled into a sort of character bravado that is flawed - yet something that makes for a viewing experience that draws you in deep with the finely etched characters. The cast are on fine form. Cary Grant gets to flex his non comedic muscles with great results as Carter, the film relies on Grant to glue the story together which he does with great aplomb. Jean Arthur & Rita Hayworth are the girls in amongst this strongly male orientated story, and it's a testament to both of the ladies ability that they don't get bogged down by all the macho heroism pouring out in the plot. Smart camera work and exciting aerial sequences further up the quality that is dotted within the piece, and were it not for some terribly twee dialogue, Only Angels Have Wings would surely be ranked as a classic of the 1930s. As it is, it's a wonderfully involving film that shows Hawks at his most humane. 8/10
Holy Smokes. And they do smoke a lot in this film. Geoff as the prototypical "man's man" who runs a struggling air freight company near a difficult to pass mountain. I don't want to give too much away, but between a handful of airplane crashes and a new beau and ex lover showing up there is a lot going on. I can't remember the last time I teared up from pure joy from a film. But this movie has about a perfect an ending I've ever seen.