In Naples, where prostitutes can pay their rent, Angela is sentenced to a year in the workhouse when she tries to steal(while streetwalking) to pay for medicine for her dying mother. She escapes and is hidden by a circus, where she's a natural talent and meets Gino, a painter. When she breaks her ankle in a fall, her career ends. What can she and Gino do? He wants to go to Naples, but the law may still be looking for her, and Gino doesn't know about her past. Starving artist and a beauty with a secret: is there room in this world for them? Written by
Frank Borzage's films often take place in Europa ."Seventh Heaven" took the audience to France before and during WW1.And in the talkies era ,many of his works were depictions of Germany("Little Man What Now?" "Three Comrades" "Mortal Storm" ).
"Street Angel" is a Neapolitan effort.The follow -up to "Seventh Heaven" ,with the same actors ,its first part is a bit erratic,recalling "Heaven" but without its focus and its intensity.But by the second third ,the movie really takes off ;it grabs you when Gino and Angela move into their small apartment in Napoli.And when the girl,about to be arrested,is given one hour's grace,Borzage's movie turns sublime.This hour ...this hour....If it were only for that scene,Janet Gaynor would deserve her AA hands down.This is really one of the most beautiful love scenes I have ever seen: you should see the actress smile ,laugh through her tears ,her intense happiness which she knows will be short-lived: and doing that without any words is a feat which is even more impressive today.
Other remarkable scenes: When Angela is in Jail ,and Gino is desperately searching for her,the director makes a stunning use of the shadows.
The misty harbor "where there are plenty of them (street angels)" where the lovers meet again.
And last but not least ,the painting ("You should not have sold it,it was our guardian angel" ) which plays a prominent part in the plot ;the final harrowing scene in the church is Gina's redemption.A sequence to rival the best of Murnau's "Daybreak" .
Frank Borzage is the poet of the lovers who've got to fight against a hostile world."On the street ,you will find people whose love and pain make great" the director tells us before his story begins.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?