Just a masterpiece. The opening 25 minutes are perfect and set the tone for the entire film - interesting characters, humour, romance, unbelievable suspense and fantastic flying sequences. There's a feeling of death looming over everyone in Barranca, but also one of life. Extremely touching and human, if it wasn't for Rio Bravo I would say this is Hawks at his best.
I've watched this twice ovr the the course of 12 hours or so, my third and fourth revisitings of this very complex movie. The first of the two viewings was, in short, a disaster; much felt flat, Hawks' mastery of Hollywood conventions felt too much in the way. Thankfully, the second viewing killed me. This is Hawks' film about Death, and the formal precision reflects that thematic. A great, demanding(for me) movie.
Living dangerously in South America! Of course, this being a Howard Hawks movie, it's also a battle of the sexes. Admittedly, the film's gender ideals seem damn near irrelevant in an era where women have career opportunities and Weezer has gone platinum. But as a movie, it still crackles. A great Hawksian line, from a plaintive Arthur to an emotionally withdrawn Grant: "I'm hard to get. All you have to do is ask."
After Rio Bravo, my favorite Hawks. I was expecting a humorous and rousing melodrama and instead got a remarkably melancholy meditation on work, romances platonic and sexual, and death. Arthur and Grant still have their timing, but it's mostly gallows humor here. An unexpectedly resonant film.
The most sober film about death and men I've seen. There is no god, no reincarnation, no hopes for more. There is only the drinks you have with friends, the time you spend with romance, and holding to your duties. It is in this way that Hawks remains the most responsible and honest director of human beings.