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Only Angels Have Wings [VHS] (1939)

Cary Grant , Jean Arthur , Howard Hawks  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Richard Barthelmess, Thomas Mitchell
  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Writers: Howard Hawks, Eleanore Griffin, Jules Furthman, William Rankin
  • Producers: Howard Hawks
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • VHS Release Date: June 24, 1994
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630228175X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,994 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Hands down, Only Angels Have Wings is one of the most buoyantly entertaining movies in the American cinema. It is also a razor-sharp example of the action-oriented films of Howard Hawks, the wide-ranging auteur who would go on to make To Have and Have Not and Red River. This one is set in Barranca, a South American port city swathed in perpetual night fog, where a band of mail pilots struggle daily to get their planes through a treacherous mountain pass. They don't care about the mail so much as they live by the rules of adventure, professionalism, and friendly rivalry. Cary Grant is the leader of this daredevil group, a man who won't be pinned down to anything except his own code of stoicism. ("I don't believe in laying in a supply of anything," he says, which may be why he's always asking people for matches to light his cigarettes.) His cool style is tested by the arrival of a wisecracking blonde (Jean Arthur) and an ex-mistress (Rita Hayworth); Rita's now married to a pilot (Richard Barthelmess), disgraced by a single act of cowardice. Hawks always got great mileage from throwing a bunch of colorful characters together in an enclosed space, where death could strike in a moment. The great secret about Hawks is that although his feel for action was crackling, he was really more interested in the way people exchanged sidelong glances or lit each other's cigarettes--there's a lot of both in Only Angels Have Wings. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie has it all.... July 6, 2002
By ehakus
Only Angels Have Wings is a perfect example of an often ignored, but excellent, classic movie. Directed by Howard Hawks, and with a great cast, Only Angels Have Wings is half exciting adventure movie and half romantic comedy. The sense of setting and atmosphere is very good as well - you almost feel as though the movie transports you to the imaginary South American port town of Barranca. The movie describes the adventures of a group of pilots working in a very dangerous location - they are hemmed in by mountains, and constantly face bad weather conditions. More specifically, it focuses on Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur), a chorus girl staying in the town, and her encounters with the tough boss of the business, Jeff Carter (Cary Grant).
The cast is very good. Cary Grant, though not playing his usual role, is excellent as the tough boss, who only flys when it is too tough for anyone else. Jean Arthur is sweet and believable as the stranded chorus girl, and the supporting cast, including a very young Rita Hayworth (in her first A-movie) is perfect.
Anyhow, if you haven't seen this hidden classic from 1939, what are you waiting for? The DVD is very good - the movie is very clear and sharp, and there are a few interesting special features as well (previews for other movies and old advertisement posters, for instance). But the movie alone is worth getting - it is a must have!
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Hollywood's Hidden Treasures! August 4, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Only Angels Have Wings is one of those many hidden treasures, one that was never really discovered... but will always be remembered. Taking place in a South American port of call for local Bananna Boats-Barranca- in which a Dutchman, John van Rider (The Dutchman) who runs almost everything in town, owns an air mail service that-despite hazardous and blinding weather- always sends its mail (and pilots) out on time, so that new planes can be bought, which will help weather conditions. As I have mentioned, the weather is harmful, and many who are emplyed by the Dutchman are killed at one point or another. Out of the small gang of pilots (including John Carrol as Jent Shelton, in a minor but excellent role), one stands out; Cary Grant, who plays Jeff Carter, a once sensitive and caring man who was turned into a cynical, unhappy chappy after a harsh breakup. Running the airline, Jeff only goes out when he thinks it might be too hard for anyone else. Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur, in one of her first large roles)has just gotten of a Northbound boat to cool off for a couple of hours before the ship has loaded some bannanas and is ready to set out to sea. On the shore, she is met by two pilots who (after some trouble) manage to "get" her. Heartless Jeff sends one out for a delivery, contrary to a deal made between the two. Bonnie is shocked by Jeff's behavior. After deciding to come back when the fog is too much to bare, the pilot attepts a dangerous landing resulting in his death. Bonnie is shocked by how easily and rudely the bunch takes it. Read more ›
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still flys high six decades later March 23, 2002
This is yet another great movie from the remarkable year, 1939. I've always been curious as to what plateau the movies would have wound up on had it not been for the devastating chain of events called WWII, which had begun the year before in Europe and China.
Jean Arthur, one of Hollywood's great comedic actresses, plays a show biz type who, for reasons never made clear, has sailed into a backwater South American port. There she meets a bunch of guys who work for a rickety airline that needs to get a big mail delivery contract in order to survive. Cary Grant plays the leader of this group. He's been burned by women in the past, and, though attracted to Arthur, acts the tough guy who only cares about his job and his buddies. It doesn't take long for Arthur to decide that he's the one for her, but she's worldly enough to know that this is one catch that will be hard to reel in. Meanwhile, Grant and company have enough to keep them busy, as they battle wind, rain, fog, old airplanes, big birds and some very tall mountains in order to get said mail to its destination.
One thing I love about this movie is the way is never seems to take itself seriously. I don't know what the filmmakers intended, but much of it seems almost a satire of macho action pictures. Why else would they cast two such wonderfully funny stars in the leads?
Also of note is way the script addresse some tricky issues in the Arthur-Grant relationship by giving the movie a hopeful, rather than happy, ending. It leaves it up to the viewer to decide if this odd couple will make it or not.
The movie won an Oscar for Best Special Effects. Some of these are remarkable even today, while others are now laughably crude. But the special effects are just icing on the cake. Only Angels Have Wings is very much story driven.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Classic, Glad Someone Recommended It! July 27, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
First off, if you like Howard Hawks in general, or To Have and Have Not, you will love this movie. To Have and Have Not lifts its entire plot line and much of its dialogue from this, perhaps even finer, movie.

Cary Grant is hard-bitten, amoral, and cold as ice in this movie. And he's great! Way better than when he's acting suave or zany in other movies. The flying scenes have aged far better than similar special effects in other movies, and the dialogue, sexual tension, and machismo still crackles. I could imagine Barranca existing sixty years ago, and I imagine that it still exists in modern form today.

The plot line is fairly bare, a bunch of down on their luck pilots disagree, fight, and try to get by in a jungle port. (Barranca, where the film takes place, is one of the greatest sets I've ever seen. Maybe the best black and white set with the exception of Rick's Cafe Americain ever). There's a vengeance plot line, an unrequited love, and a floundering airline mixed in. It sounds like too much, but the combination works just right. The gray, noirish atmosphere really adds to the feeling of depression-era despair and hope.

Really, really good.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
Many of the lines are cliché but this film was made 75 years ago, prior to WW 2, a totally different mind set. Read more
Published 26 days ago by C.B.
2.0 out of 5 stars What's Bad is Good
or What's Good is Bad

Jean Arthur is probably my favorite actress of all time but if this had been the first movie I had ever seen her in, I would have never given her a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tina
5.0 out of 5 stars Angel of a Great Film with Wings
Only Angels Have Wings, is one of my all time favorite Cary Grant movies. I saw this as a very young kid growing up in Nebraska in 1950's and love watching old movies and first... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ronald Brezenski
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Enjoyable!!!
LOVE this movie!!! So glad to find it here! Please keep these wonderful antiques available for all to enjoy for many years to come!!!
Published 3 months ago by Latesha Stephens
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
This had everything, drama, action, romance and real human emotion. I found it rivitting, although compared to moderm films, it would be considered slow going. Read more
Published 4 months ago by sir Charles
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like Cary Grant, don't miss this for your collection.
This was one of Carey Grant early movie from what I could tell from the movie staging. Endless supply of old airplanes flying around in fog and rain. Read more
Published 4 months ago by T
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie about Flying!
A movie about the early days flying the mail. The movie shows the first Instrument Flying techniques of the day.
Published 9 months ago by John E Lehman
4.0 out of 5 stars Pilot report
As a pilot I enjoyed the movie. The movie was directed by a pilot. It has some interesting old aircraft and the flying events are reenactments of real of events that have taken... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Phil Hays
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Picture ever not Nominated for Best Picture
Howard Hawks gives us,again, men doing dangerous work in a very professional manner, and two women who know or come to know the risks of loving them..
Published 14 months ago by Patrick Welch
4.0 out of 5 stars only angels have wings
As an aviation buff and professional pilot for 42 years I actually looked at this as a bit of history. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mastercfi
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