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Only Angels Have Wings (1939)


speedracer5
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I just watched Only Angels Have Wings last night for the first time.  Another film to cross off my list of 1939 films that I decided to watch as a personal challenge.

 

Anyway.  I really liked this film.  It's the fourth Jean Arthur film I've seen (others being Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, Talk of the Town).  I'm really becoming to enjoy her performances and I had never even heard of her before I became an active member of this board.  I didn't realize how prolific a career she had. I've found myself specifically seeking out Arthur's films--which, for me, is an indicator of how much I enjoy her films.  Despite what was said about Arthur on the "Annoying Actors" thread, I don't find her voice grating at all.  The only thing I've noticed is that in the four films of Arthur's that I've seen, she seems to play the same type of character; but that's not necessarily a bad thing, because her "character" works for me.  I like how her characters seem somewhat nice and normal, but are always slightly quirky--which makes the character more believable to me (everyone has their quirks). 

 

I've also begun to really enjoy Howard Hawkes' films-- even though, they sometimes seem to have somewhat convoluted plots.  I don't think the convoluted plots are a bad thing however, because usually his films are entertaining and interesting enough that Hawkes' films deserve a second (or third, fourth, etc.) glance in order to completely unravel the plot.  I always notice new things about the film with each successive viewing.

 

This film, I believe was the first major role for Rita Hayworth-- after Columbia made over "Margarita Cansino."  She was beautiful as always but it was apparent that she was in her first big movie role.  Not to say that she was bad; she just didn't seem as confident as she does in Gilda.  I especially liked her drunk scene--even though I understand that it didn't go entirely according to the script.

 

Regarding Cary Grant, this role as the macho pilot was somewhat of a departure from his usual characters.  It was interesting seeing him not wearing a suit and not trying to be charming.  I liked that his character was somewhat mysterious and that you didn't know if he held a torch for Arthur or Hayworth or neither. 

 

I thought the ending was great as well.

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Only Angels Have Wings is my favorite Cary Grant movie.    I love how balanced the movie is.   Grant is funny but he is also an adventurer.      Jean Arthur and Grant really work well together and their scenes are great and romantic.   But the film does have a story aside from the romance,  as well as it being a male buddy picture,  between Grant and Thomas Mitchell.      One of the best lines is when Grant says 'yes, we have no bananas'.  

 

Just so many good things about this film.

 

Keep on watching Jean Arthur movies,  I don't think you will be disapointed.    One of the her best is The Devil and Miss Jones.   

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Keep on watching Jean Arthur movies,  I don't think you will be disapointed.    One of the her best is The Devil and Miss Jones.   

 

Aaaaa!  That was the movie I was going to recommend she watch next, but you beat me to it.  It's a funny, enjoyable movie to watch, with great performances by her cohorts:  Bob Cummings, Spring Byington, Charles Coburn, and Edmund Gwenn.  Miss Arthur has one of the great movie moments in it.  I won't say what it is, but you won't have any trouble recognizing it.  It's a complete surprise, and you won't quite be able to believe what you've seen.  It was the first film I watched that she was in, and that moment made me a gape-mouthed admirer (seeing her hotness in The More the Merrier that did other things).  Bob Cummings has a brilliant scene in a police station.

 

Another great is You Can't Take it With You.  With that you get not only Miss Arthur, but Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Ann Miller, Eddie Anderson, Mischa Auer, Dub Taylor, Frank Capra, George S. Kaufman. . . .whew! 

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If you're interested in more Jean Arthur films, check out Easy Living. I think it's very funny.

 

Actually, she has a lot of good films, but this one is pretty wacky.

I had Easy Living recommended to me on another thread I was involved on regarding Jean Arthur.  I'm definitely going to check that one out.  Hopefully Netflix and/or TCM doesn't disappoint.  I wish that Jean Arthur would have had a SUTS day this year-- would have made seeing more of her films easier!

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Only Angels Have Wings is my favorite Cary Grant movie.    I love how balanced the movie is.   Grant is funny but he is also an adventurer.      Jean Arthur and Grant really work well together and their scenes are great and romantic.   But the film does have a story aside from the romance,  as well as it being a male buddy picture,  between Grant and Thomas Mitchell.      One of the best lines is when Grant says 'yes, we have no bananas'.  

 

Just so many good things about this film.

 

Keep on watching Jean Arthur movies,  I don't think you will be disapointed.    One of the her best is The Devil and Miss Jones.   

I really enjoyed Only Angels Have Wings as well.  I'll definitely need to add it to my collection.  I'll check out The Devil and Miss Jones

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Aaaaa!  That was the movie I was going to recommend she watch next, but you beat me to it.  It's a funny, enjoyable movie to watch, with great performances by her cohorts:  Bob Cummings, Spring Byington, Charles Coburn, and Edmund Gwenn.  Miss Arthur has one of the great movie moments in it.  I won't say what it is, but you won't have any trouble recognizing it.  It's a complete surprise, and you won't quite be able to believe what you've seen.  It was the first film I watched that she was in, and that moment made me a gape-mouthed admirer (seeing her hotness in The More the Merrier that did other things).  Bob Cummings has a brilliant scene in a police station.

 

Another great is You Can't Take it With You.  With that you get not only Miss Arthur, but Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Ann Miller, Eddie Anderson, Mischa Auer, Dub Taylor, Frank Capra, George S. Kaufman. . . .whew! 

The Devil and Miss Jones sounds good thank you! I'll try to see if I can locate it somewhere.  I'll check out You Can't Take it With You.  I'll have to admit that I haven't heard of some of the people you mentioned-- but I do enjoy Frank Capra, Jimmy Stewart and Ann Miller; so I'll have to give it a look.

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  • 11 months later...
I know I should be SUTSing it (a much safer word (and much more boring word) than SOTMizing) with Olivia de Havilland today, but Only Angels Have Wings (1939) was on GetTV this morning and, well, some movies just demand to be watched. And rewatched.

 

Howard Hawks: Was there a genre this guy couldn't handle? As a flyer himself, his ability with movies that dealt with airplanes (The Dawn Patrol (1930). Ceiling Zero (1936). Air Force (1943)) may be understandable. But he also did well with gangster movies. And with screwball comedies. And with westerns. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

 

Cary Grant: At the risk of being repetitious, was there a genre this guy couldn't handle?

 

Jean Arthur: A hoot even in a movie that is nowhere near being a screwball comedy. And her voice doesn't get on my nerves either.

 

Thomas Mitchell: Did any actor have a better year than Thomas Mitchell in 1939? Stagecoach. Only Angels Have Wings. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Gone with the WindThe Hunchback of Notre Dame. That quintuplet alone would constitute a good career for many.

 

Rita Hayworth: When Rita Hayworth became Rita Hayworth. And, considering the physical changes that turned Rita Cansino into Rita Hayworth, I got a real kick of Cary Grant's character commenting on her character's hair style changes in this one.

 

Richard Barthelmess: Another one who had a thing for movies dealing with flight. Although his career was winding down at this point, he still did an excellent job in this one.

 

Sig Ruman: Always a pleasure to encounter in a movie. And this one was probably one of his best roles.

 

John Carroll: Although good in this one, he made a much bigger impression with me in a latter movie dealing with flight, Flying Tigers (1942).

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I know I should be SUTSing it (a much safer word (and much more boring word) than SOTMizing) with Olivia de Havilland today, but Only Angels Have Wings (1939) was on GetTV this morning and, well, some movies just demand to be watched. And rewatched.
 
Howard Hawkes: Was there a genre this guy couldn't handle? As a flyer himself, his ability with movies that dealt with airplanes (The Dawn Patrol (1930). Ceiling Zero (1936). Air Force (1943)) may be understandable. But he also did well with gangster movies. And with screwball comedies. And with westerns. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.
 
Cary Grant: At the risk of being repetitious, was there a genre this guy couldn't handle?
 
Jean Arthur: A hoot even in a movie that is nowhere near being a screwball comedy. And her voice doesn't get on my nerves either.
 
Thomas Mitchell: Did any actor have a better year than Thomas Mitchell in 1939? Stagecoach. Only Angels Have Wings. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Gone with the WindThe Hunchback of Notre Dame. That quintuplet alone would constitute a good career for many.
 
Rita Hayworth: When Rita Hayworth became Rita Hayworth. And, considering the physical changes that turned Rita Cansino into Rita Hayworth, I got a real kick of Cary Grant's character commenting on her character's hair style changes in this one.
 
Richard Barthelmess: Another one who had a thing for movies dealing with flight. Although his career was winding down at this point, he still did an excellent job in this one.
 
Sig Ruman: Always a pleasure to encounter in a movie. And this one was probably one of his best roles.
 
John Carroll: Although good in this one, he made a much bigger impression with me in a latter movie dealing with flight, Flying Tigers (1942).

 

 

Only Angels Have Wings is my favorite Grant picture and that is saying a lot since I love so many films Grant was in.   Jean Arthur was very versatile and she could be charming,  funny,  and romantic,  but with a lot of depth in an drama\adventure film like this.   As you noted just a great all around cast.       

 

1939 was indeed the one of the best years a supporting player like Thomas Mitchell could ever dream of.      

 

As for Grant and genres;  Well Grant doesn't do well in period films (thankfully he only made a few),  and I can't picture him doing a western.  Saying Judy, Judy, Judy to a horse just wouldn't work as well as what he somewhat does in this film (the closes time Grant says the iconic "Judy" since Rita's character was Judy).   

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Only Angels Have Wings is my favorite Grant picture and that is saying a lot since I love so many films Grant was in.   Jean Arthur was very versatile and she could be charming,  funny,  and romantic,  but with a lot of depth in an drama\adventure film like this.   As you noted just a great all around cast.       

 

1939 was indeed the one of the best years a supporting player like Thomas Mitchell could ever dream of.      

 

As for Grant and genres;  Well Grant doesn't do well in period films (thankfully he only made a few),  and I can't picture him doing a western.  Saying Judy, Judy, Judy to a horse just wouldn't work as well as somewhat does in this film (the closes time Grant says the iconic "Judy" since Rita's character was Judy).   

 

Might have been fun to see Cary Grant take a stab at a western. Our man James Cagney would seem to be equally unlikely for a western but his westerns (The Oklahoma Kid (1939), Run for Cover (1955) and Tribute to a Bad Man (1956)) are eminently watchable if not necessarily classics.

 

On the other hand, "Giddyup, Judy!" and "Whoa, Judy!" do leave a bit to be desired.

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Might have been fun to see Cary Grant take a stab at a western. Our man James Cagney would seem to be equally unlikely for a western but his westerns (The Oklahoma Kid (1939), Run for Cover (1955) and Tribute to a Bad Man (1956)) are eminently watchable if not necessarily classics.

 

On the other hand, "Giddyup, Judy!" and "Whoa, Judy!" do leave a bit to be desired.

 

The two later Cagney westerns,  were watchable films (especially Tribute),  but The Oklahoma Kid wasn't.   Bogie and Cagney leaving the WB world of gangster \ crime films to play in this western just didn't work for me.   As Bogie said,  Cagney looked like a mushroom with that 10 gallon hat he wore.

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The two later Cagney westerns,  were watchable films (especially Tribute),  but The Oklahoma Kid wasn't.   Bogie and Cagney leaving the WB world of gangster \ crime films to play in this western just didn't work for me.   As Bogie said,  Cagney looked like a mushroom with that 10 gallon hat he wore.

 

I get a kick out of the sheer absurdity of The Oklahoma Kid. But I do suspect that Jack Warner, etc., were smoking something other than tobacco when they put that one together.

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Does one dare to mention that much has been written about the gay subtext in Only Angels Have Wings? (OK, I'm ducking now).

 

Of course there is a lot of male bonding in OAHW.  This is common in a lot of Howard Hawks films based on men doing their duty associated with a dangerous job.   But gay subtext?   That funny line about yes we have no banana?     :wacko:

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Of course there is a lot of male bonding in OAHW.  This is common in a lot of Howard Hawks films based on men doing their duty associated with a dangerous job.   But gay subtext?   That funny line about yes we have no banana?     :wacko:

LOL.  Actually, I was reluctant to mention it, but a lot has been written about it. I thought I noticed it the first time I saw the film, but I haven't seen it in a while. I think it's partly the Thomas Mitchell character (Kid Dabb) and his attitude to Cary Grant. And of course there's the line when Grant calls Jean Arthur a

q u e e r duck to which she responds "So are you." Or something like that. I read a piece about the Grant character transitioning from the Mitchell character to the Jean Arthur character -- the passing of a two-headed coin is a symbol of that.  Anyway, it's interesting to analyze (if you will pardon an outrageous pun!)

 

I can't believe it -- the word q u e e r can't be typed!

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