Reel and Retro

Presenting the Past

Hell's Angels poster with Jean Harlow

Hell’s Angels – 1930

Chosen first for all the first’s it offers. (Say that fast five times).

The film itself was one of the first blockbuster action films, one of the first talkie movies, and the first leading role for Jean Harlow, who was 19.

The end of the 1920s was groundbreaking in the entertainment industry. Howard Hughes was producing and directing an epic WWI aviator film called Hell’s Angels. It was almost complete when Bam! Sound equipment was now available. Well, Of course, Hughes had to be a part of this new technology and decided to reshoot the entire film to make it a talkie.

The leading lady in the film initially was Greta Nissen. The role of Helen was to portray a British aristocrat, difficult for Nissen with her very thick Norwegian accent. But, not so difficult for the relatively unknown Jean Harlow. Hughes paid Nissen for her part, let her go, and cast Jean Harlow in her first leading role. A role that made her an overnight international star.

For more interesting info on Jean Harlow and her role in Hell’s Angels:

An epic film that cost more than money

Hughes spent three years and nearly $4 million to create this aviation classic. Hell’s Angels was the most expensive production of the era but made no profit in its first release.  

In the process of the film,  70 pilots were used, 3 died during the shooting of the film. A stunt pilot was killed in a crash while delivering one of the airplanes to the filming location, in Oakland, CA. Howard Hughes himself crashed a plane while performing a stunt that a stunt pilot refused to do. Hughes was hurt but survived.

Jean Harlow is the Immortal Idol of the month for March, 2020. Check out her story and stay tuned for more movie recommendations of the platinum blonde, here in Keep it ReelAlso, here is a link to purchase the Epic World War I Aviation Film:

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