Hawksian Angels Wings Essay

Submitted By superjew22
Words: 992
Pages: 4

Eli Allen
Film as Literature
Hawksian The Howard Hawks film Only Angels Have Wings demonstrates the “Hawksian” code in all of the main male actor’s roles. Hawksian heroes are supposed to have “iron fists and hearts of gold,” meaning that they have a tough exterior that hides a tender emotion underneath. The Hawksian hero must also show idealistic moral fiber by keeping promises and finishing any job they start, no matter how difficult the circumstances are. This is the classic way that Hawks portrays men in his films, and Only Angels Have Wings is no exception. Towards the start of the film, newcomer Bonnie Lee (played by Joan Arthur) witnesses the death of Joe Souther (Noah Berry, Jr.) in a plane crash. Though they met only recently, Bonnie is shaken by the event, and even more so by the way the rest of the male cast reacts to the loss of their comrade. They all put on a show to cover up their raw emotions over the loss of a friend, and Geoff Carter (Carry Grant) even goes as far as to eat a steak that was prepared for Joe. Bonnie’s reaction is quite different, “Haven't you any feelings? Don't you realize he's dead?” Geoff continues to play off the whole affair saying, “Who's dead?...Who's Joe?...” This causes Bonnie to storm off in a fury. But before she is out the door Geoff catches her and confides, “…all the weeping and wailing in the world won't make him any deader 20 years from now. If you feel like bawling, how do you think we feel?” The men in Hawk’s Films are supposed to be hard men born from hard times, who have to hide their emotions behind a wall of manly bravado. The characters know that they can do nothing to get Joe back, so instead of soiling his memory with a monotonous funeral, they live it up like nothing has happened. This is their way of cherishing the memory of a loved one without drowning in sorrow. Bonnie quickly gets a lesson in the ways of the Hawksian heroic code, and bounces back to play tunes on the piano for the whole bar. The same night, as soon as the fog lifts, Geoff goes up in the air to do the job Joe could not, giving Bonnie a quick kiss before risking his own life to finish the job. Though there is less risk without the fog, Carry Grant is already proving that he is a Hawksian hero by completing what his employee could not do without a second of hesitation. The climax of the film is a whole three course meal of Hawksian heroism, in which Kid Dabb (Thomas Mitchell) is forced co-pilot for Bat MacPherson (Richard Barthelmess). The Kid blames MacPherson for his brother’s death because MacPherson ejected out of a plane that was going down, leaving the Kid’s brother inside. The flight is extremely dangerous because of heavy fog and a storm over the pass, but a lot is riding on the flight. Geoff had informed the kid earlier in the film about the importance of the next few flights, “Dutchy made an agreement. If he could get the mail out of here twice a week on schedule for six months, he'd not only get a long contract but a subsidy. You know what that would mean? Plenty of money around here.” This is the last flight needed for the contract, and the importance of the contract leaves Kid no choice but to fly with his nemesis. The Kid proves he follows the Hawksian code by taking his chances with the bad weather and an untrustworthy pilot to complete the job that they have been working so hard to achieve. Against incredibly difficult odds they must persevere to finish what they started. However, the flight does not complete its journey. A startled flock of condors crash into the plain