Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Screen -- Angels Over Broadway (1940)

 This film is not what I expected...  at all.  From the title I expected "Angels Over Broadway" to be a light, fun, maybe even a heartwarming type of film (why did I have visions of a Busby Berkeley musical?).  In my opinion, it's none of the above.  Not even close.  It's a good film but I found it very dark and kind of moody. 

Take the characters for example, there's a con man who's down-on-his-luck looking for his next sucker.  Then there's a chorus girl, down-on-her-luck, who's willing to do anything to get in a show.  There's a drunken playwright whose show just closed because it was a flop.  And last but not least, you have a meek embezzler, with a money squandering wife, who's caught stealing $3,000 by his boss and threatened with jail unless he replaces the money by 6 AM the next morning.  Oh and by the way, the embezzler is now suicidal. 

Director Ben Hecht packs a lot of drama into 78 minutes so hold on tight because it is a roller coaster ride.  The ending comes kind of abruptly and left me scratching my head, not knowing if I wanted more or that I was glad it was over.
The film stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as "Bill O'Brien" the con man, and an enchanting Rita Hayworth as "Nina Barona" the chorus girl.  But it's Thomas Mitchell who steals the show as "Gene Gibbons" the playwright.
I think the film is also known as "Before I Die" which suits it much better ...

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