Ever since the appearance of "Wings", some years ago, it has become the custom in Hollywood to turn out a new, and of course more mammoth air thriller about once every six months. Following close upon the heels of "The Dawn Patrol", "Hell's Angels" has at last made its appearance with still larger adjectives and longer superlatives ringing forth in its praise from the publicity department. Not the least impressive of the much heralded features of this picture is that somehow or other the director, Howard Hughes, managed to spend some four millon dollars in the production, which ought to guarantee something stupendous at any rate: The point omitted, however, is how much was paid for the story. For while a story is essential to bind the film together, it seems that Howard Hughes was out to fill the requirement but no more and the result is that the picture is a series of unexcelled air scenes interrupted by a few feeble shots of uninteresting characters in sadly weak roles.
Now that we have done away with the story, there is but one major fault remaining, namely that the second half of the film is a sharp anticlimax to the zeppelin scenes portrayed in the first half. It is too bad, because after you have had your breath taken away by shots of a zeppelin drifting through clouds, and an almost melodramatic series of events leading up to its destruction, then you have to sit through some air pictures which, in different order would be much more effective than they are.
It is a stunning picture on the whole, and is worth seeing just for the dirigible sequence which is the most remarkable we have ever had occasion to see. And while we have been running down the rest of the picture, it is impossible to deny that the air scenes all through are as good as have ever been made, particularly the bombing of the munitions plant and the dog fight with 50 or more planes participating.