Tuesday, May 25, 2021

On This Day... Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

On this day in 1939, Cary Grant's 33rd full length film, Only Angels Have Wings, was released.


At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots' lives in order to win an important contract.


Cary Grant... Geoff Carter
Jean Arthur... Bonnie Lee
Richard Barthelmess... Bat MacPherson
Rita Hayworth... Judy MacPherson
Thomas Mitchell... Kid Dabb
Allyn Joslyn... Les Peters
Sig Ruman... Dutchy (as Sig Rumann)
Victor Kilian... Sparks
John Carroll... Gent Shelton
Don 'Red' Barry... Tex (as Donald Barry)
Noah Beery Jr... Joe Souther
Manuel Álvarez Maciste... The Singer (as Maciste)
Milisa Sierra... Lily (as Milissa Sierra)
Lucio Villegas... Doctor
Pat Flaherty... Mike

Did You Know?

Howard Hawks had known a real-life flier who once parachuted from a burning plane. His co-pilot died in the ensuing crash and his fellow pilots shunned him for the rest of his life.

The film was inspired by a true story of a real-life couple Howard Hawks met while scouting Mexican locations for Viva Villa! (1934) (which was eventually directed by Jack Conway).

"Calling Baranca" later became a recurring line in Looney Toons/Merrie Melodies cartoons.

Dutchy's statement about flying, "Include me out," is a quote from Samuel Goldwyn. It is one of many malapropisms attributed to him.

Richard Barthelmess had deep scars that resulted from an infection due to plastic surgery. The only way to cover them up was with heavy make-up, but Howard Hawks convinced him to leave them the way they were because "those scars tell the story and are important to your character." Hawks also removed planks to make Barthelmess appear smaller, to reflect his character's inferiority among his fellow pilots.

This film was supposed to be among the 12 American titles selected for the first ever Cannes Film Festival, set for September 1, 1939. Sadly, the war would delay the inauguration of the festival by seven years.

When Rita Hayworth couldn't play her drunk scene well enough, Hawks told Cary Grant to throw a bucket of water on her head, dry her hair, and to only say his lines.

Cary Grant is often incorrectly quoted as saying "Judy, Judy, Judy" to Rita Hayworth in this movie. The misquote is attributed to impressionist Larry Storch who, when in the middle of one of his nightclub acts, saw Judy Garland walk in as he was impersonating Grant. Apparently this is how he addressed her.


Bonnie Lee: [Joe has just died and Bonnie is feeling guilty about his death] Mr. Carter? Mr. Carter? Do you really think... I mean... Do you really think it was my fault, what happened out there?
Geoff Carter: Sure it was your fault. You were gonna have dinner with him, the Dutchman hired him, I sent him up on schedule, the fog came in, a tree got in the way. All your fault. Forget it, unless you want the honor.

Geoff Carter: Wait a minute, you little fool, why don't you use your ...
[sees that she's crying]
Geoff Carter: Oh, come on. Stop it.
Bonnie Lee: I don't know how you can act like this when that poor kid, he's ...
Geoff Carter: [coldly] Yeah, I know, he's dead.
Bonnie Lee: Yes, he's dead!
Geoff Carter: That's right. And he's been dead about 20 minutes, and all the weeping and wailing in the world won't make him any deader 20 years from now. If you feel like bawling, how do you think we feel?
Bonnie Lee: Oh, I'm sorry...
Geoff Carter: Oh, come on. Go outside and walk around - and stay there until you put all that together!

Bonnie Lee: How can you eat that?
Geoff Carter: What?
Bonnie Lee: Eat that steak.
Geoff Carter: Well, what's the matter with it?
Bonnie Lee: [referring to Joe] It was his!
Geoff Carter: Well, what do you want me to do, have it stuffed?

Lobby Cards and Posters:

Directed by Howard Hawks.
Produced by Columbia.
Running time: 121 minutes.

Artwork by Rebekah Hawley of Studio 36.

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