Friday, August 17, 2012

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)



“Why do you think they come down to this kind of a place?” 

            I have wanted to see Only Angels Have Wings for a while now. I did not hype it up or really look forward to seeing it I just had to see the film because it stars Cary Grant. I like Jean Arthur now so that was an extra push to finally watch it. Only Angels Have Wings is like sitting through two films at once.
            Bonnie Lee (Arthur) gets off a ship on an island called Baranca. She is a performer who has been traveling looking for work. Apparently the only woman on the ship she has given one the crew a pretty nasty cut under his eye. Two pilots Les and Joe who were talking to the beaten crew member see Bonnie walk off the ship. They start to follow her and she is in no way interested. Les and Joe walk up to Bonnie while she is at a souvenir stand and when they get close she pulls a sword on them! But she sees they are Americans and is happy to hear them speak a language she understands.
            The two guys are happy to see her as well. They fight for her attention asking her if she wants a drink and that they will pay for her dinner. A call for Joe comes over a loudspeaker that his flight is ready. He and Les are part of a group of pilots who fly mail out from the island. It is very dangerous for them to fly out since there is always thick fog and bad weather all the time. Joe goes up but he is forced by Geoff Carter (Grant) the head aviator to come back because of the fog. Joe does not listen to Geoff who tells him not to bring the plane down and he crashes and dies. Bonnie sees the whole thing happen and is really shaken. She cannot understand how everyone else is not sad that their friend whom they have known much longer has died. They tell her it is part of their job. They all begin to drink and have a good time together and even Bonnie forgets about Joe. That night Geoff gets a job and goes off in his plane. Bonnie for some reason likes Geoff even though he does not really like her. She was supposed to get her boat that morning at 4:30 but when Geoff comes back Bonnie is still there and he is not happy. The next ship does not leave for another week.
            A new pilot comes in named Bat Macpherson (Richard Barthelmess) with his wife Judy (Rita Hayworth). Macpherson does not fool Geoff or the other guys for a minute. They figure out he is a man named Killgallen a pilot who had bailed out of his plane but left his mechanic to die. The mechanic happened to be Geoff’s best friend Kid’s (Thomas Mitchell) brother. At first Kid does not realize the new pilot is Macpherson and when he does he almost lays into the guy until Geoff stops him. Geoff later has to ground Kid because his sight is not good.
            Bonnie had once asked Geoff who the woman who broke his heart to give him is opinion on women and love. Turns out he knows Macpherson’s wife Judy pretty well she was the one who broke his heart. She asks him why none of the other guys like her husband and he just says to ask Bat. Macpherson got to keep the job with the group after he successfully got a guy out of a mine and to a hospital.
            The rest of the film I cannot remember and to me it was unimpressive and boring. What got to me was how the film was like watching two different films. It started off with this bubbly woman off a boat and then she turns into this ridiculously melodramatic woman in love with a man who does not love her in the slightest and she does everything to change his mind. Then the whole films turns into this long drawn out melodrama of men dying trying to get mail off the island and Bonnie is almost all but forgotten.     
            The performances were not bad at all from any of the actors. Cary Grant was as always great. His character went from being a bit of a bastard to a happy kind of guy back to a miserable bastard and then happy like a little kid and he made it all look so easy. Jean Arthur is a very good actress but I just hated what her character went through. I hated that she was this spunky lady at the beginning and then went to this crazy in love foolish woman who pull a gun on Geoff. Arthur’s character change was what bothered me most about the film it was just weird how she changed so much for a man who did not want to acknowledge her. Rita Hayworth does not have many scenes but when she comes in you can feel her sexuality and gorgeousness (if that is possible) come off the screen. You can see this is the beginning of Hayworth’s great talent.
            Only Angels Have Wings is not a classic film I would be quick to recommend. Howard Hawks did a fantastic job directing the man knew how to make a great film but this is one of his films I could not get into at all. I felt the plot was drawn out, the characters all over the place, and the story boring after a while. As I said it felt like I was watching two different films in one. Only Angels Have Wings is not a terrible film but it is not one of the best.