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Charles Engle has been caught embezzling. He writes a suicide note, and goes out wandering on the town. Small-time hustler Bill O'Brian sees him give a couple of big tips, figures he's rich, and plans to take him over to a big-time card game and fleece him. He enlists Nina Barone to help get Engle to the game. She goes along, but is more interested in O'Brien than in his schemes. Meanwhile, a perpetually drunk and none too successful playwright, Gene Gibbons, finds the suicide note. He cooks up a scheme (with the reluctant aid of O'Brien) to get the money Engle needs to pay back his employer and save his life. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Walter Baldwin (Rennick) and Stanley Brown (Master of Ceremonies) are listed by a modern source as cast members for those roles, but they did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. See more »
When Gene, Nina and Bill are at the table in the club, discussing the plot for a play, Bill's cigarette keeps changing length. See more »
[to Bill O'Brien]
I'll remember this night for a long time. When things don't seem so good, I'll remember Mr. Gibbons, and Mr. Engle... and you.
See more »
1940's "Angels Over Broadway" is actually a little play on words, since the name of one of the main characters is Engle, which in German means Angel (actually spelled Engel). Written by Ben Hecht, the film stars Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell and John Qualen. It's an interesting and sweet film with very good performances, but you would swear it's based on a play because it is extremely heavy on dialogue.
The story concerns four people who wind up joining forces: a wheeler dealer named Bill O'Brien (Fairbanks Jr.), a suicidal man, Engle (Qualen), a lonely performer, Nina (Hayworth) and a drunken playwright, Eugene Gibbons (Mitchell). Engle needs to come up with $3,000 that he embezzled by morning; O'Brien thinks Engle is a rich sucker; Nina is looking to meet someone successful; and Gibbons has written another flop. They all are in the same nightclub. While intoxicated, Gibbons learns Engle's sad story and is determined to help him. His first move
taking back a piece of $12,000 jewelry from his girlfriend -- does
not work as, after he takes it, she tells him it's paste. Though O'Brien had planned to bring Gibbons to a poker game so he could lose a lot of money to thugs and O'Brien could earn a bonus, it is decided that Engle should go instead and skip out after winning the initial money that the players will allow him to win to draw him into a false sense of luck. Nina goes along, interested in O'Brien, even after she finds out he's broke.
One of the most amusing aspects of the film is that everyone - including the mobsters - knows who the Gibbons character is. They all say,"Oh, yeah, you're the playwright." Anyone who has ever watched "Jeopardy" knows that today, no one knows current playwrights by name or face, let alone current plays. The film is interesting as well because is that although this is really four individual stories, the plots converge so that the film is not in the least episodic.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is marvelous as usual. The man could be the most elegant of British gentlemen or a born and bred New York low-life. Here he is the latter and a delight. I am so glad a previous comment mentioned Marilyn Monroe - she must have been influenced by Hayworth in this film, as Hayworth's voice and delivery in spots can only be described as pre-Marilyn. Monroe couldn't have had a better role model. Hayworth is just beautiful and gives a sympathetic portrayal of Nina. Mitchell's performance is heartrending, especially when he calls his wife on the telephone. Qualen has precious little dialogue but he, too, does a great job as a desperate man.
Definitely recommended for the acting and the structure of the film, which is masterful.
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