Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Action! Adventure! ROMANCE!
Action! Adventure! ROMANCE!

Genre: Adventure Drama Romance 

Starring: Cary Grant (The Awful Truth • To Catch a Thief), Jean Arthur (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Directed By: Howard Hawks (The Big Sleep Scarface (1932)) 

Overview: Geoff Carter owns and runs the local air freight company in the remote Andes port town of Barranca. Bonnie Lee stops in on her travels to find work. Bat McPherson is a pilot with a shady past.

This is the story of their dangerous lives.

When I received Only Angels Have Wings through my Canadian Netflix queue, I sat on it for a month before watching it. For as much as I love Cary Grant, I will admit I was deterred in part by the whole 'Romantic' part of this Romantic Adventure Drama. Well let me tell you that my only regret is that I didn't watch it the second I received it.
The story is rich with plot. In a small Andes town famous for its banana trade we find a beautiful blonde American getting off a ship. She is immediately befriended by a couple of pilots who bring her for a drink. Quickly, she is introduced to the whole flying freight company and their boss Geoff Carter, played by Cary Grant, who strolls in the front door for his first impression like a tsunami. From this point you might think that the rest of the story writes itself, but herein lies the genius of the film: instead of wooing the girl for the next 90 minutes, Geoff chooses instead to work. His first order of business is sending a pilot up to make a mail delivery run. When the pilot returns Geoff and his crew try to help him land in a dangerously thick fog, an unfortunate constant in the town of Barranca. Without telling you how any of these intensely dramatic moments end, I will tell you that these white-knuckled flying scenes are the lion's share of what to expect from Only Angels Have Wings. On top of everything else, we also have the subplot of the arrival of an infamous pilot, and a painful old flame from Geoff's past, played, might I add, by Rita Hayworth. Combine all this with incredible special effects that rely heavily on miniature work and a climax that delivers, well not much else need be said about how fun yet dramatically heavy Only Angels Have Wings is...

And Rita Hayworth for the win
And Rita Hayworth for the win

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 9 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 86% (Fly By Right!)

...except maybe to thank my film bible for bringing it to my attention: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

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Yeah, you FLY through this one. And Rita Hayworth is really something.

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