The Tarnished Angels

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Story of a friendship between an eccentric journalist and a daredevil barnstorming pilot.

ACTORS  :  Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone

YEAR OF RELEASE  :  1957

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The Tarnished Angels  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.

Tarnished Angels is a great film

 
The Tarnished Angels  I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of “The Tarnished Angels,” on a wide screen with a fresh print, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City back in 1980, with no less than Douglas Sirk himself invited by MOMA as a special guest. The film blew everybody away emotionally; Hudson, Stack, and Malone all give performances that are equally tough and vulnerable, but the grandeur of Sirk’s mise-en-scene, which really has to be seen in a theater on a wide screen to be fully appreciated, is a textbook example of the art of telling a story in film terms with both force and grace. Don’t mind the other reviewer; Faulkner himself, according to Sirk, said it was the best adaptation of his work he had seen in films.

I’ll Take This Sirk-Stack-Malone-Hudson Story

 

Even though I haven’t seen this movie in quite a while, it’s ironic I would write this review shortly after viewing “Written On The Wind” for the first time recently. “Ironic” because of the main actors star in both films: Robert Stack, Rock Hudson and Dorothy Malone, and both films were directed by Douglas Sirk.

Personally, I thought this film was far more interesting than the more well-known WOTW. This was a better story.

Dorothy Malone, for one, looked a heckuva lot better in this movie. She had some classic beauty and shows it here more than the trampy role in the other film.

I also preferred this film because it had some fascinating and dramatic flying scenes, things I have never seen before on film. Apparently, they had these 1930s air races in which planes few around pylons, almost like a horse race on land. This is the only film I’ve seen that pictured.

Another thing I enjoyed was Hudson’s dramatic story at the end of the movie which, at first, seemed ridiculously melodramatic but was said so well that I found in very compelling, and it tied the whole story together.

I also appreciated Malone doing the right thing at the end, telling off Hudson for coming on to her, since she was a married woman. This is one of the few films – including those in the 1950s – in which adultery is NOT treated mater-of-factly.

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