Only Angels Have Wings

Rita Hayworth shakes hands with her old beau Cary Grant while standing next to her new beau Richard Barthelmess in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), creating a classic Howard Hawks triangle.

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Only Angels Have Wings

Richard Barthelmess and Rita Hayworth in a publicity still for Only Angels Have Wings (1939).  Richard was on his way down, after being a big star in the silent era, and Rita was on her way up, soon getting starring roles in major productions at Columbia Studios.

Only Angels Have Wings

Richard Barthelmess as Bat McPherson in a publicity still for Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Only Angels Have Wings

Cary Grant and Jean Arthur in a publicity still for Only Angels Have Wings (1939).  They co-starred together in another classic, Talk of the Town in 1942.

Only Angels Have Wings

Rita Hayworth as Judy MacPherson in a publicity still for Only Angels Have Wings (1939).  Rita made the most of her big break after a few years in obscurity.  Like Marilyn Monroe in Monkey Business, being cast as the second female lead in a Howard  Hawks film lead to superstardom.

Only Angels Have Wings

Jean Arthur and Cary Grant mourn another loss in Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Only Angels Have Wings

Thomas Mitchell as Kid Dabb needs a light in a screencap from Only Angels Have Wings (1939).  Thomas had a great year, also appearing in other classic films of 1939:  Gone With the Wind (as Scarlett O’Hara’s father), Stagecoach (John Wayne’s big break), Mr Smith Goes to Washington and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Only Angels Have Wings

Cary yawns in a publicity still for Only Angels Have Wings (1939) with Thomas Mitchell.

Only Angels Have Wings


Jean Arthur and Cary Grant are in the middle of all the action in the fictional South American port of Baranca in Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Only Angels Have Wings

Jean Arthur and Cary Grant contemplate events in Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Only Angels Have Wings

Howard Hawks had difficulty with Jean Arthur filming Only Angels Have Wings (1939).  Hawks wanted her to be a typical Hawksian woman, but Jean always refused, telling him “I can’t do that kind of stuff.”  Later on, after seeing Lauren Bacall’s film debut in To Have and Have Not,  she regretted her rigid outlook and told Hawks if they ever worked together again, she would try anything he asked, but Hawks had long since moved on.

Only Angels Have Wings

Rita Hayworth is reunited with Cary Grant as her current boyfriend Richard Barthelmess is concerned in Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings

Cary Grant as Geoff Carter in Only Angels Have Wings (1939).  It was the second of three movies in a row Howard Hawks made starring Cary, but it was the first and only drama, greatly expanding Cary’s on screen persona best exploited by Alfred Hitchcock in Suspicion, Notorious and North by Northwest.  For Hawks, Cary would make two more comedies, I Was a Male War Bride and Monkey Business.

Only Angels Have Wings

Jean Arthur at the piano in a typical Howard Hawks musical interlude from the drama in Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings


Cary Grant helps Thomas Mitchell with a smoke in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), symbolizing their closeness as friends and work partners.