Hell's Angels (1930) - Rotten Tomatoes

Hell's Angels (1930)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this film, Ben Lyon and James Hall play a couple of British brothers who drop out of Oxford to join the British Royal Flying Corps. Several early scenes establish Lyon and Hall as unregenerate lotharios, setting up their romantic rivalry over two-timing socialite Jean Harlow.


Ben Lyon
as Monte Rutledge
James Hall
as Roy Rutledge
John Darrow
as Karl Arnstedt
Lucien Prival
as Baron Von Kranz
Frank Clarke
as Lt. Von Bruen
Douglas Gilmore
as Capt. Redfield
Jane Winton
as Baroness Von Kranz
Evelyn Hall
as Lady Randolph
W.B. Davidson
as Staff Major
Wyndham Standing
as Squadron Commander
Carl von Haartman
as Zeppelin Commander
Carl von Hartmann
as Zeppelin Commander
Lena Malena
as Gretchen
Stephen Carr
as Elliott
Hans Joby
as Von Schleiben
Pat Somerset
as Marryat
Marilyn Morgan
as Girl Selling Kisses
William Von Brincken
as Von Richthofen
Marian Marsh
as Girl Selling Kisses
Harry Semels
as Anarchist
Ira Reed
as Pilot
Leo Nomis
as Pilot
Al Wilson
as Pilot
View All

Critic Reviews for Hell's Angels

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5)

The machine guns are real machine guns, the bombs are real bombs, the drum of motors is the drum of genuine motors. But the actors themselves are false, puny, inadequate, the only real automatons in a world of vital steel.

April 29, 2013 | Full Review…

It's no sappy, imbecilic tale.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

The end result is barely adequate. But it does feature a spectacularly elaborate World War I dogfight, and an equally fine Zeppelin sequence. And of course there's Harlow.

February 9, 2006
Top Critic

These air scenes, with the crashing of flaming planes, have never been matched on the screen.

January 28, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Should be judged in context but even then it's a bit high on the melodrama and low on subtlety.

July 6, 2005 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Dramatically, it's a giant flop; and the wooden filmmaking technique only burdens it more. Still, it's hard not to see what wowed audiences in 1930.

May 11, 2014 | Rating: 6/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hell's Angels

A terrific film and maybe one of my favs. I enjoyed the film immensely, particularly the the omminous Zepplin scene and the ariel dog fights. The story is flat but I was aware of the brother relationship between Roy (James Hall) and Monte Rutledge (Ben Lyon). "Hell's Angels" was quite brave in it's frank talk of sexuality, swearing and machismo behavior. I noticed Martin Scorsese took clips from Hughes's "Hells Angels" picture and incorporated into his film "The Aviator". If it wasn't for Scorsese's film I would not know of the picture and it's amazing. Roy (James Hall) and Monte Rutledge (Ben Lyon) 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.

Brian R
Brian R

Super Reviewer


Of interest more as a historical landmark than a great film. The aerial scenes are very impressive especially those in rudimentary color but the acting of the leads keeps the film from being remarkable. An 18 year old Jean Harlow is very green as a high society jezebel but holds the screen with the magnetism of a star plus it is the only chance to see what she looked like in color which in a strange way makes her more real even if the color is garish. The same can not be said of her co-stars. Both Hall and Lyon have moments that register however by and large they are stiff and dull, you have to wonder how much better this would have been with Gable & Spencer Tracy or James Cagney in the leads. John Darrow is good as Karl but his part is small. It's easy to see why this was a big hit on release just as talkies were dawning but now it is more of an artifact of time and place that a compelling viewing experience.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

I can't believe how well this movie has held up over almost 100 years. One of the earliest sound pictures, and it still fairly explodes off the screen. Everyone talks about the gripping aerial sequences, which deserve their sterling reputation. But I was also floored by Jean Harlow's almost demonic portrayal of a sex-crazed woman with no allegiance to anything but her own pleasure. I can see why there were calls for censorship shortly after this picture was released. Also captivating were some of the dramatic sequences, such as the murder of the German soldier dangling from the zeppelin. Director Howard Hughes demonstrates mastery of story-telling in some of these sequences. The final sequence involving the lead character shooting his own brother was immensely powerful. Anyone who cares about cinema's history has to put "Hell's Angels" on their must-see list. It is shocking that it didn't receive a Best Picture nomination in 1930. Preposterous. Hollywood must have felt incredibly jealous of Hughes, just as they were jealous of Orson Welles 10 years later. I am sure Welles considered Hughes a hero and inspiration.

William Dunmyer
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

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