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Angels Over Broadway (1940)

  • Drama
  • Small-time businessman Charles Engle is threatened with exposure for embezzling $3,000 for his free-spending wife. Deciding on suicide, he scribbles a note, stuffs it in his pocket and goes for one last night on the town. He is pulled into a poker game by conman Bill O'Brien and singer Nina Barone, but when they discover the dropped note, they resolve to turn the tables, get Engle his $3,000 and save his life.



    A cuckolded embezzler on the verge of suicide is helped by a tout| an alcoholic playwright| and a pick-up girl to reimburse the money with a gambling sting.




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    No demons, just excellently written angels. Produced, directed and written by Ben Hecht, Angels Over Broadway is a film that I personally hadn't heard of until it showed up on one of the British Freeview stations this last week. The first thing what surprised was the bona fide classy cast list, Mr Charm himself, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Miss Beautiful 1940, Rita Hayworth, Mr Ever Watchable, Thomas Mitchell & Mr Undermentioned, John Qualen. The next thing that surprised me was during a bit of research I learned that critics of the day gave the picture a hard time for not soft soaping the audience, madness really, because this is a razor sharp and highly efficient picture. Set around one night on Broadway, our four main characters come together courtesy of Charles Engle's {Qualen} intention to kill himself over a huge debt. Mistakenly thinking that Engle has loads of cash to burn, Bill O'Brien {Fairbanks} enlists Nina Barona {Hayworth} in the hope of luring Engle to a poker game run by seedy gangster types, and thus fleecing him of his cash, where of course the pair of them will get a cut. Yet boozy playwright Gene Gibbons {Mitchell}, upon learning of Engle's suicidal leanings, hatches a plan to turn the tables on the poker fiddlers and turn Engle's life around. Naturally tho, not everything is going to go to plan! A smashing film that shines brightly with quality acting and comically astute writing, so if you get the chance then give it a go and you might be as surprised as I was. 8/10

    This was a fun watch, included in my oddly-titled yet truly economical Mill Creek 'Classic Romances' 8-pack, which I purchased because I love old movies and it was only $10. Though if you really stretch the definition of 'romance', the designation fits, that aspect is but a very minor component of this, and the other films', workings. The 2-time Oscar winner (both wins, and all six nominations, were for screenwriting prowess) Ben Hecht directed this, and he did a decent job, even throwing in the odd bit of idiosyncratic flair. I must admit though I admire him more for his writing--he's made such a mark on cinema with simply the handful I'll casually mention here (Underworld--an Oscar-winner, The Front Page, Scarface, Nothing Sacred, Angels with Dirty Faces, Gunga Din, His Girl Friday, The Shop Around the Corner, Foreign Correspondent, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Gilda, Notorious, Rope) from ones I have personally seen and adored. I must admit I'm more familiar with Douglas Fairbanks Sr.'s work than that of his son here, and it's really different watching Rita Hayworth at this stage of her career, playing a shy, naïve waif--nothing like the force of nature she would become just a few years later with 'Gilda' and her short, tempestuous marriage to Orson Welles. In short, the story works for me, that of a boozing playwright, struggling actress and hustler helping a suicidal man out of a jam. It's a sweet little movie that's worth owning and rewatching. I honestly wish they still made little wonders like this these days. Not everything has to be either Star Wars or Hamlet.



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    RARBG.txt 30 B
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    Subs/3_English.srt 108 kB


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