Capital Celluloid - Day 23: Sunday Jan 23, 2011

Only Angels Have Wings: BFI Southbank, 8.30pm NFT 2

A major highlight of the Howard Hawks season and a pivotal film in the great director's career. Indeed, Robin Wood, in his BFI book on Hawks, describes the movie as a "completely achieved masterpiece". Cary Grant leads a group of pilots who regularly take their life in their hands flying mail planes across the Andes. They are joined by a sparky Jean Arthur, who drops in for a steak but fascinated by the life and times of Grant's team stays on and witnesses the adventures of one of Hawks's archetypal male groups.
Only Angels Have Wings mixes tragedy and comedy in typical Hawks style and has an atmosphere all its own. Here is the justly celebrated piano-playing sequence with Grant and Arthur. 

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