Hell's Angels (1930)
8/10
A Real Epic Movie
22 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Howard Hughes' epic World War I film which was a major breakthrough of it's time with the biggest budget of the time. Written out of the love of air planes and the beauty of flying, Hell's Angels provides some of the best flying battles, assortment of planes, amazing aerial shots and stunts. Hell's Angels delves deep into the aero library and features several kinds of airplanes from zeppelins to biplanes and single engine planes. Since the release in 1930, several ways of depicting aerial or space battles have been seen, there has been flying models (Star Wars: Episode 4: A New Hope) or CGI (King Kong). The battles in Hell's Angels are a sure showstopper as the audience is drawn into the real world look of planes flying and crashing. The film doesn't just have one or two planes fighting, but multiple planes flying around. The epic battle scenes were shown with such passion and earth-shattering explosions (literally) is something rarely seen preformed today.

Of course the beautiful flying sequences and stunts weren't the only astonishment to be seen in Hell's Angels. The movie also went through an early coloring process, it may have been primitive by today's standard, but during the early 1930's it was ground breaking. The use of the blue or purple dyed film showed an early form of day for night and helped distinguish the difference between day and night in the movie. The movie also tries to go for full color, but comes out a little short, but it would be at least seven years before color would be enter the movie scene. But color wasn't the only barrier that Hell's Angels broke down, it also made the leap from silent to talkie movie during production. It is said that there's 250 feet for every foot of footage in the film release.

Hell's Angels takes a look at the reaction of two brothers as World War I hits and how they were once in love with Germany. There's a metaphor for World War I when Baron Von Kranz finds Monte in bed with his wife and kills the romance of his life, in return the Baron battles Monte's older brother Roy. World War I started as a small assassination and ended up being a huge battle, in Hell's Angels, Monte falls for a girl who is already taken and then runs away when he's challenged to a duel and Roy takes the bullet and begins to create a rift between the two brothers. Until the point where Roy was shot it felt like the two brothers were in-separateable and do everything together, but as the film progresses the rift between the two grows larger and larger until the end of the film when both brothers realize that they are still brothers and love each other despite the things they had done.

The film shows a sexy, strong and backstabbing Helene, portrayed by the no underwear wearing, dyed bombshell Jean Harlow. A women who would go on to inspire a young girl just four years old when the film was released called Marilyn Monroe. Jean Harlow's performances as a seductress and two faced may have been an inspiration for the femme fetales of the film noir genre.

Closer look at the other characters and one feels like they are very stereotyped: The stiff German officers, the older, more mature brother, the boozing, and womanizing younger brother who doesn't have much responsibility. However, both the brothers have moments where they shine, for Roy, it's his decision to fool his brother and kill him before he spills the secrets. For Monte, it's his speech on how hard war is and how it can ruin people and how he feels like a pawn.

Howard Hughes had a real eye for getting the beautiful feel of flight captured on film and has captured some of the most breath taking footage that stands the test of the time while bringing a real epic feel to the movie and breaking rules and making the movie he wants.
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