Half Angel (1936) Poster

(1936)

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7/10
Solid Fox mystery all but forgotten
kevin olzak6 May 2009
This forgotten Fox mystery from 1936 last aired on AMC in the early 90's and has never been shown on Turner Classic Movies. Beautiful Frances Dee (wife of Joel McCrea) plays Allison Lang, a young lady who has just been acquitted for the poisoning of her late father, but has already been found guilty by the press. Brian Donlevy plays smart-aleck reporter Duffy Giles, the only one who has defied public opinion and proclaimed her innocence. When Allison inquires if he really believes she's guilty, he admits he doesn't know...but she's brought out his protectiveness since he's fallen in love with her. He continues to keep an eye on Allison after an elderly couple that had followed the trial take her under their wing and treat her like a daughter, much to the dismay of the husband's snobbish sister (Sara Haden), who believes the couple have shown a disconcerting habit of giving their money away to 'undesirables.' Further complicating matters is the unwanted presence of the husband's half-brother, Dr. Alexander Cotton (Etienne Girardot), who periodically escapes from the local sanatorium to wreak havoc on the estate. Perhaps best known for his three appearances as the exasperated coroner Dr. Doremus in the Philo Vance detective series, always being called away at mealtime, 80-year-old Girardot is well cast here (he died in 1939). But the real scene stealer is Charles Butterworth as Duffy's sidekick Doc Felix, whether phoning in to the editor to report that Duffy's not lying down on the job (we see him relaxing with a paper in bed) or discussing his recent motorcycle accident (70 miles an hour...no hands...and fell asleep). Also featuring an unbilled John Carradine providing the off-screen voice of an anonymous sanatorium inmate ("1 times 1 is 1, 2 times 2 is 2," etc.), this is definitely a film that needs to be rediscovered.
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