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With a combination of humour, romance and action, Only Angels Have Wings,  directed by Howard Hawks, stars Cary Grant as the tough-talking head of an air freight service operating in the dangerous Andes Mountains.


This is another pretty fantastic looking black and white film from Criterion. It's a little grubby on the cleaned up grain front but the darker edges to the film give this is a wonderful look, especially given the level of detail the presentation brings.

Backgrounds are a little layer of gauze like at times but foregrounds are generally much better, full of crisp, clean elements which a huge range through white, grey and black tones. Lighting is also very good, bouncing off of greased hair and leather jackets really well.

Despite the age of the film and the how clear that is in the film's style, this much darker than film's of the era seemed to look. This gives it a much broodier look and a more striking one than the glamorous, well lit films of the era. Yes, those elements are there as well but the core locations for this film are so well visualised, they are almost dreamlike and full of raw appeal offering up a location that feels lived in and real and its presented extremely well here.


Once again, this is an old film so the audio track is rather thin but not at all in a bad way. Dialogue and everything in general is clean, hiss free and even when their are lots of layers, usual within characters talking over one another in a busy bar, the track still retains its clarity. Plane scenes come with some crisp, deep plane sounds rumbling through speakers and sound very realistic within the track.


'Hawks and Bogdanovich' (19:31) are Audio excerpts from the filmmakers regarding the film

'David Thompson Only Angels Have Wings' (17:04 HD) is an interview from 2016 set to clips of the film.

'Howard Hawks And His Aviation Movies' (20:51) is a 2016 documentary focusing on Hawks films. It features Ben Burtt discussing the films, so Star Wars fans should get a kick out of his involvement, I know I did, I could hear that guy talk about anything, and of course he covers the films sou d effects.

'Lux Radio Theatre' is a sixty minute radio adaptation of the film and features the actors too and as usual, last up is the film's 'Trailer'.


Only Angels Have Wings isn't really like a lot of old black and white films, it somehow manages to seem more personal, like there's a bit more weight to the characters in their middle of nowhere surrounding and it gives the film a much more modern feel at times. Characters talk in realistic ways, over one another and with some sly wise cracks and the more dramatic elements land harder because of that. The film look great on this release, dark but still full of life and character and the extras, while not heavy in depth offer more background to the film's history.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the true quality of the source.
 Only Angels Have Wings
 Only Angels Have Wings
 Only Angels Have Wings
 Only Angels Have Wings
 Only Angels Have Wings
 Only Angels Have Wings