Brilliantly innovative yet plagued by obsessive-compulsive tendencies and a reclusive bent, Howard Hughes epitomized unchecked ego at play in Hollywood during the first half of the twentieth century. Buying his way into the American film industry with his share of a family fortune, the 25-year-old struck gold after the advent of talking pictures by funding the successful "The Front Page" (1931) and "Scarface" (1932). Inspired by the heroics of World War I pilots, Hughes mounted "Hell's Angels" (1930) as a one-man show, writing, producing, directing and personally overseeing the extensive aerial photography; though the film was a critical success and a hit with moviegoers, Hughes lost millions due to overspending. He quit Hollywood in 1932 to spend the next decade testing experimental airplanes, breaking speed records and circumnavigating the globe by air. Surviving multiple plane crashes but plagued afterwards by an addiction to painkillers, he would direct one more film, "The Outlaw" (1943) starring Jane Russell, before buying controlling interest in RKO Pictures. Hughes' peculiarities and penchant for micro-management drove RKO to bankruptcy and the self-made billionaire retreated into a hermetic existence. Hughes lived the rest of his life in a series of hotel penthouses before dying aboard a private plane in April 1976. No less beguiling in death than he had been in life, Hughes retained a currency with the American public who remembered him as a mad genius brought down not by his most abject failures, but by his greatest achievements.