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In the border town of Nogales, Arizona, a wealthy attorney and rancher is solicited by his escaped convict brother in aiding him to cross the border into Mexico where his wife and children are living in poverty.
Nora Gilpin is a demure nurse, who has just become engaged to her long-time beau, Tim. She is also secretly fighting her attraction to attorney, John Raymond, whom she insists she dislikes. However, at night, she sleepwalks and adopts a different --and sexier-- personality. Nora then seeks out John and expresses her true feelings for him.Written by
"This is very odd," says Nora at one point, and she could have been talking about the whole film. The Technicolor is loud and garish, the plot is unconvincing and the characters lack substance in this ill-thought-out 'chick flick'.
Nora Gilpin is a nurse who knows, but doesn't like, John Raymond - the handsome (and single) attorney. Nora has a tendency to sleepwalk, and her subconscious self heads straight for John, because although she won't admit it, she is secretly in love with him. A doctor advises John that he should marry her - then her two selves will merge happily.
Loretta Young plays Nora. Already a screen veteran at the time (she had been making pictures continually since appearing in Valentino's "The Sheikh"), she is very beautiful and gets to wear some nice New Look outfits. It has to be said that Loretta is no acting genius. It is probably just as well, because the shallow script makes no demands upon her whatsoever. All she has to do is play with a few frocks in front of the mirror, keep her make-up pristine and utter one or two deeply un-witty quips. "I can't believe I'm capable of that moronic talk," she says. It's a shame she didn't say it to the scriptwriter.
The part of John Raymond is taken by a miscast Joseph Cotten. If Young was getting a little old for ingenue parts at age 38, Cotten at 46 was stretching the point. The man who, ten years earlier, played Jedediah in "Citizen Kane" so assuredly seems tentative and ill at ease in this bit of froth.
Nora shows up at John's place in the middle of the night and flirts with him in his bedroom. This makes no kind of sense, given that this is 1951 and Nora is engaged to somebody else. It simply doesn't ring true.
The legal case which occupies the middle segment is just plain dreadful. Nora finds herself subpoena'd to appear as a witness at nine o'clock the next morning, even though no trial could possibly have been arranged so quickly. She is the complainant - so why on earth would she need to be subpoena'd? And who would do it? The papers are drawn up as if this were a civil case and she were the plaintiff, though she has suffered no civil wrong and it is clearly a criminal trial. John Raymond appears as an attorney, even though he is the defendant (this is a major no-no). He concedes the case against him, then the magistrate allows him to cross-examine Nora on a point of no relevance whatsoever. She is cross-examined without having given evidence in chief. Raymond mixes private chat with his questions, volunteers evidence himself and waves exhibits around without formally adducing them. The identification evidence is plain ridiculous, as is the conclusion of the trial.
The spurious psychoanalysis is annoying, as is Nora's failure to recognise the fragment from her own petticoat. The back-projection of the roller-coaster is feeble.
"Half Angel" is half-baked.
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