Bombshell blonde Jean Harlow in a charming publicity sitting for the 1930 aviation classic HELL’S ANGELS. This film received its world premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on May 27, 1930. The film was originally shot as a silent film, but it was still unfinished after a year and a half, by which time “The Jazz Singer” (1927) had premiered, signaling the start of the sound era. Director Howard Hughes converted his film to sound. The production took three years (1927–1930) and Hughes spared no expense, so that despite being the top-grossing film that year and one of the highest-grossing of the early sound era, it did not recoup its exorbitant cost: $2.8 million (equivalent to $45 million in 2021). The original female lead, Norwegian-American Greta Nissen, had to be replaced due to her accent. Harlow became a major star as her successor. Most of the footage is black-and-white, but there are several one-color-tinted scenes for dramatic effect, including one scene filmed in Multicolor (but printed by Technicolor), which provides the only color film footage of Jean Harlow. In spite of all the difficulties, it was and is today considered a landmark of early sound and color use, and of the epic action film genre.
Color enhanced image by Hollywood Pinups from the b&w vintage original.