Hell's Angels
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No one was surprised in 1929 that aviation mogul Howard R. Hughes would produce a paean to World War I flying aces like Hell's Angels. Given Hughes' comparative inexperience as a moviemaker, however, everyone was taken slightly aback that the finished film was as good as it was. The very American Ben Lyon and James Hall play (respectively) Monte and Roy Rutledge, a couple of British brothers who drop out of Oxford to join the British Royal Flying Corps. Several early scenes establish Lyon and Hall's romantic rivalry over two-timing socialite Helen (Jean Harlow). While flying a… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The machine guns are real machine guns, the bombs are real bombs, the drum of motors is the drum of genuine motors. But the actors themselves are false, puny, inadequate, the only real automatons in a world of vital steel."
‑ Malcolm Cowley, The New Republic
"These air scenes, with the crashing of flaming planes, have never been matched on the screen."
‑ Mordaunt Hall, New York Times
"The two spectacular set pieces are as much the audience's reason for viewing the film as it was Hughes' reason to make it"
‑ Shane Burridge, rec.arts.movies.reviews
"The 1930 film has some major weaknesses -- most of the expository scenes, especially a creaky beginning -- but there's enough stunning stuff in it to make it worth seeing."
‑ Mark Pfeiffer, Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
"Simply superb."
‑ Staci Layne Wilson, Fantastica Daily
"It's no sappy, imbecilic tale."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Dramatically, it's a giant flop; and the wooden filmmaking technique only burdens it more. Still, it's hard not to see what wowed audiences in 1930."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Though the film was better than could be expected, it was still done in by its uninteresting love triangle story."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Jean Harlow's screen debut isn't much to look at, to be honest. The air battles, however, are another story."
‑ Christopher Null, Filmcritic.com
"Spectaculat spectacle. Lame drama. Interesting early James Whale"
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"The end result is barely adequate. But it does feature a spectacularly elaborate World War I dogfight, and an equally fine Zeppelin sequence. And of course there's Harlow."
‑ Tom Milne, Time Out
"Like a James Cameron movie, it's epic with great action sequences, but weak when it comes to the performances."
‑ Scott Nash, Three Movie Buffs
"Should be judged in context but even then it's a bit high on the melodrama and low on subtlety."
‑ Ian Nathan, Empire Magazine
"Despite being mauled by critics for its ludicrous story, Hell's Angels has undeniable grandeur in its aerial sequences."
‑ , Film4
"Hell's Angels (1930) is known for Howard Hughes' direction, and 18-year-old blonde bombshell Jean Harlow's first major role and big break into film"
‑ Tim Dirks, Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
More reviews for Hell's Angels on Rotten Tomatoes

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