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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
When Laverne does her parachute jump, she is seen in close shots hanging by her arms from a trapeze-style bar. However in the longer shots, she is seen to be in a normal parachute harness as she lands. 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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Depression-era newspaper reporter Rock Hudson (as Burke Devlin) rescues a boy from teasing, and returns him to his parents. As it turns out, nine-year-old Chris Olsen (as Jack) is the son of World War I hero Robert Stack (as Roger Shumann), who is using his piloting muscle in a New Orleans carnival act known as "The Flying Shumanns". Mr. Stack's wife, curvaceously beautiful blonde Dorothy Malone (as LaVerne), does a parachute stunt. And, the couple's mechanic, chubby Jack Carson (as Jiggs), keeps the plane's engine humming. The quartet appears hale and hearty, but are destitute when Mr. Carson spends their meager funds on a pair of boots. Instead of moving into a "Hooverville", they go to live in Mr. Hudson's small apartment.
Hudson, who drinks and smokes like a reporter should, wants to do a story on "The Flying Shumanns" for the Picayune.
In flashback, we learn Malone married Stack (whilst in the "family way") instead of Carson, who was the man teased for being young Olsen's real father in the opening segment. Carson is still in love with Malone, who seems to be torn between Hudson and Stack. But, that's not all. Stack's aviating rival, rotund Robert Middleton (as Matt Ord), is also in love with Malone. And, after a flying tragedy involving Stack and Middleton's pilot (Troy Donahue), Malone is sent to prostitute herself in exchange for a new plane (for Stack). This tests how much each of the men - Hudson, Stack, Carson, Middleton - love Malone.
And, it may also reveal who Malone will take to the closing credits
William Faulkner's "The Tarnished Angels" reunites director Douglas Sirk and Hudson with two of their "Written on the Wind" (1956) co-stars, Malone and Stack. They are certainly attractive, but seem more like they are posturing for a 1950s (where these folks should have been put) glamour magazine than starring as 1930s New Orleans depression-era denizens. The most ludicrous sequence involves Malone showing off her underwear during an impossible to imagine parachute and swing stunt - the arm muscles required for this feat would be considerable. The carnival backdrop is a highlight, it's used well in the opening and climax.
****** The Tarnished Angels (11/21/57) Douglas Sirk ~ Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone, Robert Stack, Jack Carson
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