In the 1930's, a First World War flying ace named Roger Schumann is reduced to making appearances on the crash-and-burn circuit of stunt aerobatics. His family are forced to live like dogs while Shumann pursues his only true love, the airplane. When Burke Devlin, a reporter, shows up on the scene to do a "whatever happened to" story on Shumann, he is repulsed by the war hero's diminished circumstances and, conversely, drawn to his stunning wife, LaVerne. Written by
During the location shooting in San Diego of this film, Robert Stack's wife was about to have their first child. While filming the tense scene where Stack propositions his own wife (played by Dorothy Malone), suddenly a plane flew right by the cameras with letters tailing four feet tall proclaiming IT'S A GIRL! Rock Hudson had arranged to have the hospital call immediately when the news came and hired a stunt pilot to tow the message behind the plane. Stack was deeply moved by Hudson's generosity, saying in his autobiography, "It's a moment I've never forgotten. Anybody who tells me that Rock Hudson isn't a first-class gent had better put up his dukes." See more »
Despite the fact that the story is taking place in the early 1930s, all of Dorothy Malone's clothing, hairstyles and make-up are strictly 1957, the year the picture was filmed. See more »
On the level, what'd you do last night?
Nothing much:just sat up half the night discussing literature and life with a beautiful, half naked blonde.
You better change bootleggers.
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Based on the William Faulkner novel Pylon, The Tarnished Angels reunites Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, and Dorothy Malone three of the four stars who were in Written On The Wind the year before. In many ways the three are continuing the roles they played in that classic.
The Tarnished Angels concerns a group of barnstorming air entertainers during the Depression years. Rock Hudson plays a newspaper reporter from the New Orleans Times Picayune who is at the carnival that they're appearing at and meets Robert Stack a former war ace from World War I who is now doing this kind of air racing and stunt flying for a living. Traveling with him are his son, Chris Olsen, wife Dorothy Malone, and mechanic Jack Carson.
William Faulkner placed himself in the middle of this story and Hudson functions as his character. He sees and observes the characters around him and what he sees is what we read in the book and see on film. Stack is a man obsessed with flying itself above everything, including his own family. Wife Dorothy Malone is a woman with a loose reputation which she doesn't do much to quell rumors about. Her reputation is so bad that the parentage of Chris Olsen is brought into question. Here it's a matter of speculation, in the original novel there is a parachute jumper who is definitely identified as the possible real father of Olsen's character.
Carson is Stack's fecklessly loyal mechanic and there's even some speculation about him being Olsen's father. In any event he's so totally loyal to Stack who occasionally uses him for a doormat that some critics have opined that the relationship between Carson and Stack's character might be gay.
Douglas Sirk who did lush romances for the most part managed the special effects part of the film very well. The air race sequences are well photographed and breathtaking.
I'm not sure how William Faulkner who was still alive when this film came out took to the changes in his novel. It probably was the best Universal could do and still be Code compliant. The Tarnished Angels is more a Douglas Sirk romance than a Faulkner novel, but that isn't necessarily bad.
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