Precious Bodily Fluids

Only Angels Have Wings: Learnin’ to Fly

Another one from Stanford Theatre with the unsurpassed combo of Cary Grant & Jean Arthur; this one with the bonus of Rita Hayworth before she realized how sassy she was. This is a film at least as good as its reputation suggests, refreshing for the old-school themes of memory and the past, concerning which the visuals carry rich connotations: pilots flying around treacherous mountains, brotherhood, what it means to love your lady and love to fly, and flying fast into who-knows-what. In part due to a recent Tom Petty craze, can’t help but think of those lyrics: “I’m learnin’ to fly, but I ain’t got wings/Comin ‘down is the hardest thing/ Well the good ol’ days may not return/ And the rocks might melt, and the sea may burn…” Something about flying goes along with escape and freedom, a connection that Hawks’ film embraces and makes a strong statement about. Beautiful stuff: comradery, faithfulness, bravery, redemption, and guts like you don’t see anymore. Can hardly watch this one without seeing lots of trademark Hawks homoeroticism, for lack of a better term. These guys love each other, and they sorta like their women, too. Put it this way: its a middle-of-nowhere airfield with a bunch of male pilots sitting around kickin it until their next flight, and when Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth show up, hardly anyone blinks. Rita may be married, and Jean may have the hots for Cary, but the only use these guys discover for Jean is to play the piano. Still, we’ll take it over Master and Commander any day.

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This entry was published on May 18, 2010 at 11:24 am. It’s filed under 1930s Cinema, American film, Howard Hawks and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Only Angels Have Wings: Learnin’ to Fly

  1. Aaron on said:

    Was that really necessary? What did M&C ever do to you? It is a timeless love story. Ne’er has the fraternal bond between a hundred men on a tiny ship been better realized. And self-surgery! That movie has something to like for everyone.

  2. Necessary? No. Just sayin, it doesn’t have Jean Arthur or Rita Hayworth in it. This one has both.

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