Film Review – ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings (1939; USA; B&W; 121m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman; ph. Joseph Walker; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, Allyn Joslyn, Sig Ruman, Victor Kilian, John Carroll, Donald Barry, Noah Beery Jr., Maciste, Milisa Sierra, Lucio Villegas, Pat Flaherty, Pedro Regas, Pat West. 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. Classic Hawks film uses themes of comradeship and bravery spiced with a love interest. A character piece with an episodic plot, it coasts on the strong performances of its impressive cast. Grant plays the boss, who won’t let his feelings get in the way of seeing the job through and Arthur is the show girl who turns the heads of his pilot crew. Hayworth is also memorable as Grant’s former girl who has taken up with Barthelmess – a pilot with a dark secret. Hawks would later finesse the formula in RIO BRAVO. [U]

Film Review – THE BIG SLEEP (1946)

Big Sleep, The (1946; USA; B&W; 114m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. Howard Hawks; w. William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman; ph. Sidney Hickox; m. Max Steiner.  Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Peggy Knudsen, Regis Toomey, Charles Waldron, Charles D. Brown, Bob Steele, Elisha Cook Jr., Louis Jean Heydt. Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he’s seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love. Classic film noir is a convoluted mystery given a huge cinematic presence through Hawks’ masterful direction and the sizzling chemistry between Bogart and Bacall. Brilliantly written pacey and combative dialogue is peppered with wisecracks delivered by a strong cast. Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler. Originally filmed in 1944, wasn’t released until two years later. Some prints derive from a slightly different early preview version (116m) with alternate footage. Remade in 1978. [PG]

Film Review – THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)

Thing from Another World, The (1951; USA; B&W; 87m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Christian Nyby; w. Charles Lederer; ph. Russell Harlan; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James R. Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, Eduard Franz, John Dierkes, William Self, Sally Creighton, Edmond Breon, Paul Frees, David McMahon, James Arness. Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a blood-thirsty alien organism while at a remote Arctic outpost. Although it plays loose with the source material this is a tense, well scripted and acted sci-fi that bears all the hallmarks of producer Hawks despite being directed by his long-time editor Nyby. Arness in heavy make-up is “The Thing” and Spencer’s warning to the world “Watch the skies” captures the political paranoia of the period. Eerie score by Tiomkin. Based on the short story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr. Re-issue version runs 81m. Highly influential it was remade in 1982 by John Carpenter who followed the source material more closely. This in turn generated a prequel in 2011. [PG]