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Angels Over Broadway (1940)

Passed | | Adventure, Comedy, Crime | 2 October 1940 (USA)
A cuckolded embezzler on the verge of suicide is helped by a tout, an alcoholic playwright, and a pick-up girl to reimburse the money with a gambling sting.


Ben Hecht, Lee Garmes (co-director)


Ben Hecht
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Bill O'Brien
Rita Hayworth ... Nina Barona
Thomas Mitchell ... Gene Gibbons
John Qualen ... Charles Engle
George Watts George Watts ... Hopper
Ralph Theodore Ralph Theodore ... Dutch Enright
Eddie Foster Eddie Foster ... Louie Artino
Jack Roper Jack Roper ... Eddie Burns
Constance Worth ... Sylvia Marbe


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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY BEN HECHT (original poster - all caps) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The working title for this film was Before I Die. See more »


When the camera pans with Charles Engle as he gets up to leave the poker game, the shadow of a cable dangling from the microphone boom can be seen following him against the back wall. See more »


Bill O'Brien: I'm pretending there's something swell about you. This delusion came over me while we were dancing. You know, when you look into a girl's eyes and you think you see someone that isn't there... well that's what I saw.
See more »


Referenced in The Fisher King (1991) See more »


My Man
(Mon Homme)
Music by Maurice Yvain
French lyrics by Jacques Charles and Albert Willemetz
English lyrics by Channing Pollock
See more »

User Reviews

Rita Hayworth - The Original Marilyn
6 January 2012 | by ytbuffloSee all my reviews

It is so easy to write off beauty as the reason an actress achieves great rank in Hollywood, and it is what also plagued Marilyn Monroe - the desperate need to be taken seriously for your talent rather than your looks once you have become famous for beauty alone.

I myself had never given Rita Hayworth props for anything other than her luminous visual persona. So it was with great delight that I came across this exceptional film, with its screwball comedy timing and humor, and its amazing ensemble casting - from a sleazy but compelling performance by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. to the ironic portrayal of the has-been drunk played to iconic perfection by Thomas Mitchell.

But the two real gems are John Qualen as a suicidal bookkeeper who is the target of a 2 bit mob scam, and Rita Hayworth in a portrayal as exceptional to me as Rosalind Russell in The Front Page, or Marilyn Monroe in 7 Year Itch - a star-struck wanna-be who is barely making it in shady circumstances, yet manages to convey tremendous innocence and idealism in spite of her deeply compromised situation.

The most striking thing to me of all is how uncanny it is to watch what one would consider to be a classic Monroe performance coming from an actress seven years prior to Marilyn having been given her first on screen part. Suddenly I felt like I understood how Marilyn had crafted her persona - hours of sitting in darkened theaters watching Rita Hayworth concoct her brilliant magic of innocence and seduction like it was real and not a carefully crafted act.

In my humble opinion, I don't believe Marilyn would have been nearly as iconic had she not had Rita Hayworth's example to follow, and this portrayal in Angels Over Broadway is the link that, to me, irrefutably proves my point! What an amazing, under-appreciated work of group talent and screen writing art! Rita is poignantly brilliant and her performance ranks for me with Robert Williams in Platinum Blonde for great, naturalistic acting that lasts through time.

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Release Date:

2 October 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Angeli del peccato See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)| Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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