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Only Angels Have Wings Blu-ray Review

Only Angels Have Wings Blu-ray

“Only Angels Have Wings” is a Howard Hawks classic.

On the surface, “Only Angels Have Wings” is a fairly simple story about the characters that inhabit a busy South American port town Barranca. More specifically, it’s about a Brooklyn born entertainer (Bonnie) who stops off at the town and the local airmail flying company led by the tough boss Jeff Carter. Over the course of the 121 minute runtime, we see the dangerous jobs the pilots embark on, drama amongst the pilots, and a complicated romance between Bonnie and Jeff.

Story wise, there may not be a ton going on in this movie, but that’s not an issue as there are a lot of themes and ideas being explored in this movie such as death, risks, professionalism, gender, romance, and friendship. It’s a surprisingly deep character centric piece, but it also happens to be quite an adventurous film with some groundbreaking F/X for the time period (1939 to be exact). Again, it sounds like the film is juggling a lot of ideas here, but somehow, it all works under the watchful eye of director Howard Hawks.

As good as Hawks’ direction, it’s the cast that makes it work. Cary Grant and Jean Arthur are obviously the two central stars and characters in this film and they certainly have the film’s best scenes. However, there are several strong supporting roles from the likes of Rita Hayworth, veteran Thomas Mitchell, and Richard Barthelmess that bring great depth to their respective roles.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? Despite the 4K digital restoration, the B&W print is a bit dark and grainy in spots. Still, there’s no question it has been cleaned up for the better.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? The plane sequences sound sharp, but the track is a bit flat in spots.

* “Only Angels Have Wings” trailer.
* A booklet containing an essay by writer/author Michael Sragow.
* The 1939 radio drama adaptation of the film.
* A newly shot 17 minute interview with film critic David Thomson who talks about the work of Howard Hawks, “Only Angels Have Wings,” the world the characters inhabit, and more.
* Film scholar Craig Barron and sound effects maestro Ben Burtt talk about aviation cinema, Hawk’s own aviation films, and airplane visual and sound effects in this interesting 21 minute featurette.
* Archival audio excerpts from 1972 between Howard Hawks and Peter Bogdanovich. Discussions include Howard’s brother, actresses, “Only Angels Have Wings,” etc.

April 12, 2016 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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