Posts Tagged ‘Jean Arthur’

Cary Grant and Jean Arthur

Cary Grant and Jean Arthur

“Only Angels Have Wings” screens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, January 25, 2014 in the Durwood Film Vault of the Kansas City Central Library, 14W. 10th St.  Admission is free. It’s part of the year-long film sereies Hollywood’s Greatest Year, which offers movies released in 1939.

Before the 1950s, movie companies rarely filmed in exotic locations. If a script called for a Welsh mining village, a Medieval castle, or a steamy jungle, it was all created on a soundstage or the back lot of a Hollywood studio.

Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings is set in a South American coastal town from which daredevil pilots take off to fly the mail over mountains and into the continent’s interior. It wasn’t shot in South America but on a sound stage in North Hollywood, California.

Creating an entire world on a studio soundstage was all in a day’s work for the designers, artists, and craftsmen on the payroll of every studio in the 1930s.  How good were they?

Watch the first 10 minutes of Only Angels.  The film begins with a nighttime shot of a ship approaching the dock through the fog. (I’m pretty sure a model boat was employed.) Then the camera begins wandering along the pier alongside the ship, following a couple of flyers who are looking for a little after-hours action. There’s a cacophony of voices and sounds, a swirl of busy movement.


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