6.6/10
858
21 user 11 critic

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.

Directors:

Ben Hecht, Lee Garmes (co-director)

Writer:

Ben Hecht
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A HECTIC ROMANCE TO BLOW THE FUSES OUT ALONG MAZDA LANE (original poster - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)| Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean Arthur was offered the role of Nina Barone, but turned it down. See more »

Goofs

When Gene, Nina and Bill are at the table in the club, discussing the plot for a play, Bill's cigarette keeps changing length. See more »

Quotes

Stage Doorman: [looking out into the darkened, empty theater] Shhh! Hear that noise? That's the rats - always performing! If I left this scenery here, they'd eat it up - eat the whole theater up if it wasn't for the actors! The hollering frightens them.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bullets Over Broadway (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
ANGELS OVER Broadway (Ben Hecht and Lee Garmes, 1940) ***
18 September 2006 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

For the most part this unusual, thought-provoking and character-driven moral fable is a fascinating affair but, in spite of the compact running-time, it becomes tiresomely talkative (especially given Hecht's overwritten script). Co-directed by a writer (Hecht made seven films in this multiple capacity, but this is the first one I've watched!) and a cinematographer that were second to none in their respective professions, it's small wonder that the film is brimming with sparkling dialogue (particularly as delivered by Thomas Mitchell, here in his trademark role of philosophical drunk) and inventive shadowy lighting.

The main roles, however, are equally well-filled: Mitchell, as I said, wasn't really stretching himself here but his three co-stars - Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Rita Hayworth and John Qualen - had rarely been offered such an opportunity to shine up to this point. Fairbanks' best-known role had been his 'smiling villain' Rupert of Hentzau in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937; where's that DVD, Warners?) but he had already made other impressive ensemble pieces, such as THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938; see my review elsewhere) and GUNGA DIN (1939); actually, his role here is sort of similar to that of the former - though he's a harder character, an utter heel, but whose scheme of 'taking' a man he believes to be a millionaire rebounds on himself and actually ends up involved in the 'taking' of his 'business partners' to the benefit of the latter (who's really an embezzler on the brink of suicide)! The unwilling crook is played by John Qualen, the great - if largely unsung - diminutive and mild-mannered character actor, whose other notable roles included the murderer in HIS GIRL Friday (1940), a victim of the Oklahoma Dustbowl in THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940) and "Miser" Stevens in THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER (1941). The film's feminine interest, then, is provided by a young Rita Hayworth who, again, exceeds all expectations with her role of a star-struck girl who forsakes her dreams of glory in order to do a good deed (even if she's initially drawn into the 'plot' purely on a whim by Fairbanks); indeed, the characters' individual reformation - more so than in THE YOUNG IN HEART, and done in a much less sentimental manner - adds an undercurrent of spirituality to the film's prominent sophistication and hard-boiled veneer, which is not so surprising coming from Hecht!

For its time, ANGELS OVER Broadway must have seemed like a B-movie with pretensions; while it falters here and there under the strain of its own self-indulgence, because it is unique, the film doesn't feel all that dated today and is bound to give detailed pleasure on every viewing.


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