Only Angels Have Wings

Released 1939


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Movie Summary

Howard Hawks
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Only Angels Have Wings is a 1939 drama about a group of bush pilots living in South America. Geoff Carter (Cary Grant) is a pilot who works for a company that transports mail in South America. Since he constantly has to fly through the treacherous mountain passes of the Andes, it is an extraordinarily dangerous job. One day, a piano player named Bonnie Lee arrives (Jean Arthur), and she quickly falls for the dashing pilot. Shortly thereafter, another couple arrives: Bat MacPherson (Richard Barthelmess) and his wife, Judy (Rita Hayworth). Bat is a disgraced pilot who once bailed out of his plane, allowing his mechanic to die. Since then, he has been unable to get to work. Judy begs Carter to give Bat a job, and he reluctantly agrees, provided that Bat agrees to only take the most dangerous missions. When Carter's mail company is threatened with losing its contract, a terrifying mission must be undertaken that will either allow Bat to redeem himself or force Carter to lose both his livelihood and the affections of Bonnie Lee.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Slant Magazine Zach Campbell

    The other reason why Hawks's film can't be approached as a pure sociological interrogation is that it's, quite visibly, a Hollywood production with certain inescapable commitments ...

  • 100

    Total Film Neil Smith

    One of [Hawks'] finest pictures: a swoony saga of fatalistic flyboys and the women who try to keep their feet on the ground.

  • 80

    The Guardian Peter Bradshaw

    It is an eccentric and entertaining movie soap-opera.

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Love & Romance, Classics