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HELL'S ANGELS

Hell's Angels


No one was surprised in 1929 that aviation mogul Howard R. Hughes would produce a paean to World War I flying aces like Hell's Angels. Given Hughes' comparative inexperience as a moviemaker, however, everyone was taken slightly aback that the finished film was as good as it was. The very American Ben Lyon and James Hall play (respectively) Monte and Roy Rutledge, a couple of British brothers who drop out of Oxford to join the British Royal Flying Corps. Several early scenes establish Lyon and Hall's romantic rivalry over two-timing socialite Helen (Jean Harlow). While flying a dangerous bombing mission over Germany, the brothers are shot down. The commandant (Lucien Prival), who'd earlier been cuckolded by one of the brothers, savors his opportunity for revenge. He offers the boys their freedom if they'll reveal the time of the next British attack; if they don't cooperate, they face unspeakable consequences. Roy, driven mad by his combat experiences, is about to tell all when he is shot and killed by Monte. The latter is himself condemned to a firing squad by the disgruntled commandant -- who, it is implied, will soon meet his own doom at the hands of the British bombers. Nobody really cares about this hoary old plot, however; Hell's Angels culls most of its strength from its crackerjack aerial sequences. The highlight is a Zeppelin raid over London, one of the most hauntingly effective sequences ever put on film. From the first ghost-like appearance of the Zeppelin breaking through the clouds, to the self-sacrificing behavior of the German crew members as they jump to their deaths rather than provide "excess weight," this is a scene that lingers in the memory far longer than all that good-of-the-service nonsense in the finale. Also worth noting is the star-making appearance of Jean Harlow. When Hell's Angels was begun as a silent film, Norwegian actress Greta Nissen played the female lead. During the switchover to sound, producer Hughes decided that her accent was at odds with her characterization, so he reshot her scenes with his latest discovery, Harlow. While she appears awkward in some of her scenes, there's no clumsiness whatsoever in her delivery of the classic line about slipping into "something more comfortable." Originally, Marshall Neilan was signed to direct the film, but became so rattled by Howard Hughes' interference that he handed the reins to Hughes himself, who was in turn given an uncredited assist by Luther Reed. Also ignored in the film's credits are the dialogue contributions by future Frankenstein director James Whale, who'd been hired as the film's English-dialect coach. Modern audiences expecting a musty museum piece are generally surprised by Hell's Angels' high entertainment content: they are also startled by the pre-code frankness of the dialogue, with phrases like "The hell with you" bandied about with reckless abandon. In recent years, archivists have restored the film's two-color Technicolor sequence, providing us with our only color glimpses of the radiant Jean Harlow. Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Condition: Used - Good
    HPB condition ratings
    • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
    • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
    • Very Good (VG): Attractive and well cared for but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, but will play almost perfectly. For VHS: barely detectable distortion or very few fuzzy or snowy frames.
    • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
    • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
    • Poor (P): Disc or tape is intact, but may be scratched or stretched. There may be skips or distortion or product defects.
    Conditions Guide
  • Format: DVD
  • Sold by: HPB Humble
  • Seller rating:
  • Publisher: Universal Studios Home Video
  • UPC: 025192593321
  • Region: Region 1


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HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
  • Very Good (VG): Will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
  • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
  • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
  • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
  • Very Good (VG): Attractive and well cared for but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, but will play almost perfectly. For VHS: barely detectable distortion or very few fuzzy or snowy frames.
  • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
  • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
  • Poor (P): Disc or tape is intact, but may be scratched or stretched. There may be skips or distortion or product defects.
Conditions Guide
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