Friday, April 30, 2010

Hell´s Angels (1930)

Roy and Monte Rutledge are very different British brothers studying at Oxford together at the onset of World War I. Mild-mannered Roy is in love with and idealizes the wayward Helen, played by Jean Harlow. Monte, on the other hand, is a free-wheeling womanizer who can't refuse any woman's advances. A German student by the name of Karl is best friends to both. After the outbreak of World War I, Karl is recruited into the German Air Force and the two British brothers enlist in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC); Roy enthusiastically as a sense of duty and Monte doing so only to get a kiss from a girl at the recruiting station. After their training, Roy finally introduces Monte to Helen, who seduces Monte.

Meanwhile, Karl is serving aboard a zeppelin that is flying over London for an attack from high above the clouds. Karl is the bombardier as he is lowered below the cloud-line in a pod, but because of his love for England he directs the zeppelin over a pond on a farm and bombs that instead. Before his superiors find out, RFC fighters are summoned, including Roy and Monte, to shoot down the zeppelin. Unbeknownst to them, the airship commander decides to sacrifice Karl by cutting the cable that secures his pod in order to obtain more altitude and speed to escape the English fliers. The sacrifice is in vain, as is the suicide of several German personnel who jump ship "for Kaiser and fatherland" in a harrowing sequence. German machine gunners manage to shoot down Roy and Monte's plane, which has a deeply unsettling effect on the latter. After his machine guns jammed on him, the last English pilot aloft steers his fighter into the dirigible, killing all aboard in a blazing fireball.

Word gets around that Monte is developing a "yellow streak" and Roy is determined that his brother restore his reputation. In a fit of anger and under enormous pressure from Roy, the brothers both volunteer for a dangerous bombing mission over Germany.

In the night before the raid, Roy discovers Helen in the arms of another officer in a pub. When he tries to take her home, she causes a scene and publicly splits up with him, leaving him devastated.

After the successful raid on a German munitions dump an aerial dogfight ensues, the brothers are shot down and captured. Given the option of a firing squad or treason, Monte's yellow streak fires up again and he plans on giving the enemy any information they want when the Germans promise that his life will be spared. Roy is forced to act so as to protect the thousands of British troops that would be harmed should they squeal, so he kills Monte and then refuses to divulge any information to his captors and is killed by the firing squad.

The film ends with footage of British soldiers successfully attacking the German front lines.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
There are many traits of pre-code Hollywood in this movie. In addition to some fairly frank sexuality, there is a surprising amount of adult language (for the time) during the final dogfight sequence, i.e. "son of a bitch", "goddamn it", and "for Christ's sake".
Production Cost: $3,950,000

No comments:

Post a Comment