Now, the men here eat first, understand?
I can’t quit you. . .
What we have here are two sides of same coin. Or perhaps both sides of the coin share the same image, a device used in Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings.
These are movies about men and the manly things they do. Angels is a about a ragtag group of commercial pilots on a rundown airstrip in South America. Dundee is a Civil War movie that features Native Americans, the French, Mexico, Confederates, swordfights on horseback, tequila, whiskey, brown skinned temptresses, questions of honor and, for sure over the top enjoyment, scenery chewers Charlton Heston and Richard Harris, who spend most of movie threatending to kill each other “when this is all over.”
Dundee was an early effort from Sam Peckinpah, whose career was largely defined by establishing a new level of hyperrealistic violence in Westerns. The legendary (and loathed) Peckinpah was not a subtle filmmaker. His masculine code is telegraphed througout his body of work. Men drink, fight, and die, in that order, and maybe they’ll stop a moment for a pretty girl, but she had better not get in the way. And of course, the women will never, ever understand.
Hawks, on the other hand, is one of the most celebrated directors of all time, one who could work comfortably in any genre. But he, too, created worlds of masculine energy, where men set the rules in the strongest possible terms. Angels is certainly representative. In probably the film’s most famous scene, the pilots drink after one of their own, Joe (Noah Beery), goes down in a fiery crash. When the token female on the premises, Jean Arthur, expresses her horror at the cavalier attitude of the pilots, she is ridculed by Cary Grant. “Who’s Joe?” he snaps.