On trial for murdering his girlfriend, philandering stockbroker Larry Ballentine takes the stand to claim his innocence and describe the actual, but improbable sounding, sequence of events that led to her death.
Johnny Angel sets out to learn who hijacked a gold shipment from his father's ship and killed his father, the captain. He is joined in the search by Paulette, whose own father has been killed by the hijackers.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
This film's earliest documented telecast took place in Memphis Sunday 29 April 1956 on WHBQ (Channel 13); it first aired in New York City Monday 30 July 1956 on WOR (Channel 9) and in Los Angeles Tuesday 7 August 1956 on KHJ (Channel 9). See more »
The glass partition in Celestial's cab keeps appearing and disappearing from shot to shot throughout the film. See more »
Good film noir, but doesn't live up to its potential
Johnny Angel was a movie that gripped me early and tightly, but when all is said and done left me wanting a bit more.
The characters are first rate: George Raft is plays your trademark noir good guy with rough edges leading role and does so very nicely. Claire Trevor plays a calculating woman with a heart of ice that only Johnny can melt. Both give very strong performances; I felt that they could have used some more development, but I almost always do with these types of movies. Hoagy Carmichael is a first rate supporting character in Celestial O'Brien, a quirky, musical taxi driver. He is right up there with my all-time favorite secondary characters. The rest of the cast is decent, not nearly as strong as the above three, but not weak enough either to really detract from the movie.
The overall feel of the movie is superb. The cinematography is generally dark and gritty (as is typical in the genre) and really draws you into the scenes and gets you emotionally involved. The scene where Johnny is searching the ship by himself was especially excellent, it had me on edge the whole time. The director, Marin, really did a first-rate job on the film, and it's worth watching just for the acting and the direction.
The story had good points and bad points. The basic plot line is quite good and fairly fresh, considering the usual formulaic plots noir often gives you (not that I mind terribly). Other comments will give you the basic plot outline, so I'll skip it, but let me say that it is, at first anyways, even more interesting than you might think. The problem is, the movie doesn't quite flesh out all of the aspects of it and leaves several loose ends and plot holes. It's really exasperating, and almost made me rate the movie even lower, but I won't spoil the plot here by mentioning the specific holes. It's hard for me to fathom why the movie starts out so strongly and then ends so sloppily! I believe it was based on a play, so perhaps the play script got a bit mangled as they tried to fit it into the feature film/noir mold, or there were budget problems. It is a rather short movie, they certainly had time for more plot and character development.
But, all that aside, it is a very solid film that is well acted and directed. Even if though the thought of what it could have been is frustrating at times, the plot still never fails to keep you interested for the length of the film. It probably won't go in my collection, but I would still recommend it to anyone who likes classic movies or noirs to give it a watch.
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