Perhaps Hollywood’s greatest-ever eccentric, Howard Hughes brought a strange, showman-like air to every creative project he touched — and no film, not even his productions of Scarface, The Outlaw and The Front Page, matched the ambition of this 1930 masterpiece. Originally filmed as a silent, Hell’s Angels was converted by producer/semi-director Hughes (several others contributed to the directing, including a fresh-faced James Whale) into one of moviedom’s first talkies, complete with a thick layer of juicy Pre-Code slang. Stanley Kubrick once declared that this was one of the films that most influenced his own style, and, once you catch one look at its meticulously designed, WWI-era aerial dogfight recreations, it’s easy to see why. Hubba-hubba co-star Jean Harlow alone is reason enough for a Hell’s Angels viewing, but Hughes is pretty much the real star on display, as the film’s displays of deadly daring-do remain to this day some of the most stirring and dramatic ever filmed. Come revel in this sparkling 35mm restoration from the UCLA Film & Television archive, complete with hand-tinting and the legendary Technicolor sequence!
Dir. Howard Hughes, 1930, 35mm, 131 min. (Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)