14. “Only Angels Have Wings”, Howard Hawks (1939)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list

Only Angels Have Wings

Only Angels Have Wings

dir. Howard Hawks scr. Howard Hawks and Jules Furthman cin. Joseph Walker and Paul Mantz with Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, Allyn Joslyn, Sig Ruman, Victor Kilian, John Carroll, Don Barry, and Noah Beery, Jr.

In 100 words: The greatest movie of Hollywood’s Golden Age is one that perfectly embodied the American spirit of community and the idealized view of pragmatism, while still retaining a witty sense of humor and a disarming view of tragedy. Like most of his films, Hawks populates this world with characters so engrossed in their work, but have built sturdy brotherly relationships with their coworkers, even when the danger and anxiety of flying airplanes are real and treacherous. In that regard, its existential tension predates the highs of Wages of Fear, while the simmering relationships recall Lubitsch. Lovely precise technical craft, engaging performances. Grant’s finest performance.

Other Movies for Context: Hawks is probably the most underrated of the great directors. I adore almost all of the movies he’s done. I think about Howard Hughes when I think of this movie, and as such, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004) stands as an interesting flick to watch with this. The workplace as a great location for viewing human relations also has parallels to recent films like Spotlight (2015) or Steve Jobs (2015).

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