Movie Review: Only Angels Have Wings

Dennis suggests Only Angels Have Wings (in Classics). Director Howard Hawks specialized in action dramas about collections of hard-boiled types (meaning men, of course) who engage in some sort of incredibly death-defying pursuit and are all cynical and heroic and manly. In this one, Cary Grant leads a gang of pilots who regularly engage in near-suicidal flights over and between some particularly jagged and blizzardy South American mountains in order to deliver the mail. Man, that’s enough to make you cynical and hard-boiled, and perhaps manly, and that’s how Grant and his

Man, I sure hope no dames show up, right fellas? Fellas?

colorful band of wingmen roll, at least until spunky Jean Arthur gets stranded at their home base and makes them question why the hell they’re doing this in the first place. I love Hawks’ movies [see His Girl Friday, Red River,The Thing (which, it’s rumored, he actually directed on the q.t.), Rio Bravo, etc] and the terse, witty dialogue his hardened professionals toss around as they smoke, drink, and light their matches on Death’s stubble, and OAHW has some of the best (Grant’s reaction when Arthur gets all womany and blubbery just ‘cause some pilot whom everybody liked died, “That’s right. And he’s been dead about 20 minutes, and all the weeping and wailing in the world won’t make him any deader 20 years from now.”), and Grant is great here, getting to play a slovenly, hardened, man of action for a change. Arthur, as the typical intruding girl in the Hawksian manwich, is great, too, talking tough, getting sloshed, falling for Grant (of course), and trying not to. Cool flying scenes, manly banter, and Grant and Arthur making goo-goo eyes; what more could you want?

Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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