Brothers Monte and Ray leave Oxford to join the Royal Flying Corps. Ray loves Helen; Helen enjoys an affair with Monte; before they leave on their mission over Germany they find her in still another man's arms.
Two brothers attending Oxford enlist with the RAF when World War I breaks out. Roy and Monte Rutledge have very different personalities. Monte is a freewheeling womanizer, even with his brother's girlfriend Helen. He also proves to have a yellow streak when it comes to his Night Patrol duties. Roy is made of strong moral fiber and attempts to keep his brother in line. Both volunteer for an extremely risky two man bombing mission for different reasons. Monte wants to lose his cowardly reputation and Roy seeks to protect his brother. Their assignment to knock out a strategic German munitions facility is a booming success, but with a squadron of fighters bearing down on them afterwards, escape seems unlikely.Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'Hell's Angels', now available on DVD in a beautifully restored version, can now be enjoyed by all of us with tinted and full colour sequences intact.
Directed by Howard Hughes (with dialogue scenes staged by James Whale), this war movie is famous for two reasons - one, it has some of the most exciting air-borne battle sequences to appear on film; and two, it marks the feature film debut of Jean Harlow. She appears in colour for the only time in the 8 minute Lady Randolph's Party sequence about halfway into the film.
The story starts with three friends at Oxford - two brothers, the good-natured Roy (James Hall), and the fly-by-night Monte (Ben Lyon); and a German student, Karl (John Darrow). An early sequence features one of the brothers taking the other's place in a duel - important to remember for later in the saga; while the turning point of the first part is of course the start of the Great War (forcing Karl to join the enemy, and Roy and Monte to enlist as pilots). Roy has a well-to girlfriend, Helen (Harlow), who isn't quite the angel he takes her to be.
The aerial battles are by far the highlight of the film, although Harlow is good in her role, vamping all who come into her path. Evelyn Hall is agreeably twittery as Lady Randolph, while Lucien Prival overacts as Baron von Kranz. Roy Wilson provides some comic relief as 'Baldy' Maloney.
Originally planned and started as a silent movie, 'Hell's Angels' still has some problems with pacing and comes across as rather stilted in places. Ben Lyon is a bit of a problem as Monte - fine as a relaxed civilian, he doesn't convince in the later sequences.
All this aside, 'Hell's Angels' is a good film and looks fantastic after its clean-up. A very interesting viewing experience.
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