Only Angels Have Wings

1939, Adventure, 2h 1m

29 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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Movie Info

A two-fisted adventure tale set in South America, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS stars Cary Grant as the tough-talking head of an air freight service operating in the dangerous Andes Mountains. Jean Arthur co-stars as a vacationing showgirl competing with Rita Hayworth for Grant's affections. A potent combination of humor, romance and action, the film was directed by Howard Hawks, the legendary director responsible for Red River, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, and the original Scarface. A triumph of casting, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS is one of the best examples of Columbia chief Harry Cohn's skill in developing talent. Cary Grant had just been released from his contract with Fox when Cohn, sensingthat the handsome leading man was poised for stardom, turned him into Columbia's most durable star. Jean Arthur was an unexpected veteran of 50 films before Cohn "discovered" something in her that previous studios had overlooked. Teaming her with director Frank Capra, he created one of the finest comediennes in Hollywood history. And Rita Hayworth, Cohn's personal protegee, was a pure product of the studio system. Groomed for stardom from the first, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS offered her a chance to learn from the best in the business. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Cast & Crew

Cary Grant
Geoff Carter
Jean Arthur
Bonnie Lee
Rita Hayworth
Judith 'Judy' MacPherson
Sig Ruman
John 'Dutchy' Van Reiter (as Sig Rumann)
Victor Kilian
Sparks (radioman)
John Carroll
Gent Shelton
Allyn Joslyn
Les Peters
Don "Red" Barry
Tex Gordon, lookout
Milisa Sierra
Lily, Joe's girl
Forbes Murray
Mr. Harkwright, mine operator (uncredited)
Cecilia Callejo
Felice Torras, Geoff's lady friend (uncredited)
Pat Flaherty
Mike, head mechanic
Dimitri Tiomkin
Original Music
Joseph Walker
Cinematography
Viola Lawrence
Film Editing
Lionel Banks
Art Director
Robert Kalloch
Costume Design
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Critic Reviews for Only Angels Have Wings

Audience Reviews for Only Angels Have Wings

  • Mar 03, 2020
    Hawks emphasizing character over plot has the effect of enhancing the danger of the flying sequences. You're just never sure who is going to survive.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • May 24, 2015
    Cary Grant leads a tight ensemble of mail pilots in the Andes Mountains for whom frequently bad weather conditions turn every regular day of work into a dance of death. Somehow Jean Arthur gets off the boat and gets involved with the guys first and then with Grant. Much of this doesn't make sense or add up and yet the presentation is so atmospheric and well done that damned if one doesn't hang around for the ride. Rita Hayworth, in her first A picture, sizzles even then.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 10, 2013
    It's a film about adventure and romance, but what we really have here is a study on the nature of death by director Howard Hawks. A lone adventuress (Jean Arthur) steps off the boat in a tiny South American banana port, and makes quick friends with some lonely american pilots working for the local mail company. It's a friendship that ends all too suddenly and all too violently. But where she would shed tears for a soul lost to dust, his fellow pilots choose to sing songs and even laugh it off, as death could come for any one of them at any time. The dashing head of the crew (Cary Grant) is perhaps the most cavalier of the group, but then, he has to be, as he's the one who sends them out (possibly to their deaths). She's attracted to him, and he to her, not as some flighty dame, but as a real woman who knows how to value life. But it becomes her task to convince him that she won't try to change him like his last love (Rita Hayworth) did, and he must make the effort to want something, to want her, for more than a passing fancy. He, who never owns so much as a book of matches, feeling it's too much of a commitment. In the face of the constant threat of death, maybe this all seems unimportant, or maybe it's the only thing that IS important. Maybe that's the heart of the matter, the issue of what this life is all about and what are we doing here and why are we doing it. There is a scene towards the end of the movie, a pilot is going on "one last flight", and it's one he must make alone. It's the elephant in the room, the fact that everyone knows, but no one wants to say aloud. That we all must one day die, and that we will die alone. The light will die within us and the mystery of death will finally be revealed. It may be wrong to fixate on our ultimate fate, but it's more wrongful still to deny that fate completely. Only Angels Have Wings is a microcosm of all our own little lives put together. We push forward and persevere in our work and loves in spite of our own mortality, because to do otherwise would be to negate our whole existence in the first place.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    This is probably my favourite Cary Grant movie of the thirties. Jean Arthur, another favourite actor, stars alongside him in this. The movie combines adventure, drama, romance, and a bit of comedy. I loved this movie, and I highly recommend it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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