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  • This interesting, creative film-noir is much less widely known than are most of the classics of the genre, but it is well worth seeing both for the story and the cast. In a relatively brief running time, it packs in a satisfying and unpredictable story with numerous turns, with a very good cast that work together quite well. The settings are well-conceived, and together with the photography and the rest of the production, they establish a convincing noir atmosphere.

    Dan Duryea is always so good at straightforward villainous "noir" roles that he sometimes seems not to have received many opportunities to do anything else, and so it's very nice to see him get such an interesting role here. He delivers very well, believably portraying the different sides of a more complex character. He also works surprisingly well with June Vincent, as together they try to solve the mystery.

    Peter Lorre does not have a very large role, but as you would expect, he makes the most of it. Toss in Broderick Crawford as the police captain, and you have a cast very well suited for film-noir.

    The story is not all that complex, but it is well-written, features some well-conceived turns, and fits together nicely. Roy William Neill has a good touch with the material, not trying to make it fancier or bigger than it is, but simply crafting a solid, enjoyable movie that has just about all that you could reasonably ask for in a film-noir.
  • Don't miss this great Universal film noir mystery! Excellent cast brings to life a gritty story of neer-do-well songwriter, the murder of a dispicable sexy blackmailer, and the death sentence of seemingly the wrong man. Throw in wise guy police inspector Broderick Crawford, sinister nightclub owner Peter Lorre (in a fascinating role reversal from "Casablanca"--this time HE is the club owner)Peter Lorre is ALWAYS a treat!!

    What a shame Dan Duryea didn't do more pictures! He's very effective in his role. The beautiful love interest June Vincent is another who should have made more pictures--she's very sweet and believeable.

    This is another example of the Film Noir genre which was so popular in the 40s and early 50s--gorgeous photography, mood and plot twists!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Black Angel" is an unjustly forgotten film noir based on Cornell Woolrich's novel. Dan Duryea, tagged in the preview as "he's no angel again!", adds yet another complex, dark portrayal to his gallery of ambiguous bad guys as Martin Blair, the estranged husband of murder victim Mavis Marlowe (Constance Dowling). Mavis is a devious singer who is blackmailing her married lover, Kirk Bennett (John Phillips). Her immaculately decorated apartment, haunting song "Heartbreak" playing in the background, her sheer black gown highlighting what a bad dame she is. Her blackmailer is shrewd, unscrupulous and will stop at nothing to get her way; Dowling's career never fully took off, most likely because of her unconventional screen presence and her independent mind (coincidentally, her sister, Doris Dowling, also appeared in a similar role in another noir of the same year, playing Alan Ladd's unfaithful lush wife in "The Blue Dahlia"). Since Mavis has made so many enemies for herself, it's not surprising that she ends up murdered. As he had the most apparent reason of anyone to want her dead, Bennett is arrested, charged and convicted (on rather circumstantial evidence) and sentenced to death. His loyal wife, Catherine (June Vincent, another under-appreciated talent), vows to clear her husband and enlists the help of Blair, who had passed out drunk after he last saw Mavis, and the pair team up to investigate nightclub owner Marko (Peter Lorre, exceptional performance), posing as a singing act. However, as with many film noirs, there are many red herrings, and things are not what they appear to be. The ending is a surprise and the killer's identity will keep you guessing to the film's conclusion.

    I don't know why this movie is barely remembered. There should have been records of the haunting vocal music. June Vincent, the last surviving cast member (she passed away a few years back), retired from show business relatively early, and it's a shame that she did not progress to more roles like this in A pictures.

    The DVD looks very good, although it shows faint signs of wear (which is to be expected for a film of its age), and the only extra included is the original theatrical trailer. Any fans of film noir should enjoy this one.
  • "Black Angel" (Universal, 1946) is one of the most entertaining films noir of the 1940s, that era when Hollywood discovered the genre and brought to it a high polish.

    In this outstanding dark mystery, based on the novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich, director Roy William Neill guides stars Dan Duryea and June Vincent through a byzantine plot that begins with murder and proceeds through the arrest and conviction of an innocent person, then finally ends with the true murderer being uncovered.

    It sounds simple and straightforward, but Neill keeps the audience off balance throughout. Just when we think one piece of evidence will pay off, it doesn't. When we think another bit of business is benign, it turns out to be a crucial clue to the unraveling of the mystery.

    Duryea and Vincent are compelling throughout, and they are supported by two excellent character actors, the always-sinister Peter Lorre and future Oscar winner Broderick Crawford.

    And I like to think that with "Black Angel," Universal finally atoned for the fatal mistake it made with another Woolrich thriller, "Phantom Lady," in 1944. In the book "Phantom Lady," written by Woolrich under his pseudonym William Irish, the plot was a tightly woven murder mystery, with the revelation of the culprit coming as a surprise to all but the cleverest readers. But when the story was filmed in 1944, Universal made the outrageous decision to reveal the killer's identity to the audience from the start.

    In "Black Angel," the murderer's identity is kept from the public until the end, the suspense is sustained, and the final scenes allow the audience to exhale after an hour and a half of diverting tension.

    Now that "Black Angel" is available in VHS, you can enjoy one of the finest examples of American film noir on your own screen.
  • It wasn't that Dan Duryea never played nice people. He could be typecast as an evil villain most of the time, but occasionally he got cast as a nice guy. The best examples of this is the movie executive in KATHIE O (1958), who helps a young child actress save her normal life from her mother's clutches, and this film, where he tries to help a condemned man's wife prove the man is innocent. The chief suspect is a crooked nightclub owner (Peter Lorre), and Duryea and the young lady attempt to get the proof to convince a police detective (Broderick Crawford) that Lorre did the the crime. Duryea (a musician) is the boyfriend of the murdered woman, and has an interest in finding the perpetrator. And he does at the end, but at considerable cost.

    A superior film noir, and well worth the watching.
  • This is very much the sort of quintessential forties film noir that fanciers of the genre get nostalgic for, with just the right balance of grit and glamor, low-budget ambiance and surehanded Hollywood artistry. Dan Duryea is even better here than in his Fritz Lang films (he's got a better role), Veronica Lake clone June Vincent is refreshingly un Lake-like, and Peter Lorre is utterly adorable as a hard-boiled L.A. nightclub owner with a heart of Viennese schlag.
  • "The Black Angel" is really a great film-noir experience - plenty of plot twists throughout to really throw you off and some very interesting characters to boot!

    Mavis Marlowe (Constance Dowling), a beautiful, heartless blackmailer, is murdered and one of her paramours who is married is accused of the crime. His wife, Catherine Bennett (June Vincent) pairs up with Marty Blair (Dan Duryea) to do some investigating of their own. Marty Blair is the widower of Mavis Marlowe, which keeps things interesting!

    Enter some other interesting characters, a nightclub owner played by the always interesting and good actor Peter Lorre, who obviously has something to hide - and a Police Captain played by Broderick Crawford whose small part keeps the action going round and round!

    Someone had to kill Mavis - wonder which one of the characters had the strongest motive? Watch and find out! Now on VHS!!! I rate this film a 10 out of 10!
  • In Los Angeles, when the singer Mavis Marlowe (Constance Dowling) is found dead in her apartment, Kirk Bennett (John Phillips) is accused for the murder, since he had been blackmailed by the victim. Kirk's wife Catherine Bennett (June Vincent) believes her husband is innocent and joins to Martin Blair (Dan Duryea), the alcoholic former husband of Mavis, to investigate the crime and try to find the killer. They suspect of Marko (Peter Lorre), the owner of a night-club that was seen in Mavis' place in the night she was murdered, and they try to prove his possible guilty.

    I had no information about "Black Angel", but being a great fan of film-noir, I decided to buy the DVD. I have just watched this unknown film, and I can say that it is surprisingly good. The simple and credible story is disclosed in a good pace and the plot point surprised me, since I did not have the slightest guess of who might be the criminal. The performances are very natural, and the black and white cinematography and the work of the camera are excellent, and in the beginning of the movie there is a spectacular traveling of the camera from Martin to Mavis apartment. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Anjo Diabólico" ("Diabolic Angel")
  • BLACK ANGEL is a vastly underrated noir film, even by those who should know better. Ostensibly it is about a young woman's efforts to find the murderer of a nightclub singer and prove her accused, philandering husband's innocence. But the movie is really about alcoholism, a man's temporary escape from it, and his ultimate relapse into addiction. At its center is a character (Dan Duryea) so enveloped by melancholy it seems inevitable that his life would be subverted by alcohol. After the morbid reasons for his condition are revealed, it becomes difficult to watch and accept the contrived outcome of the movie. The real pain is in the hideous recognition of guilt and shame that lies at the heart of drunkenness.

    Cornell Woolrich (author of the original novel) was an alcoholic burdened by insurmountable obsessions and sexual frustration. Through his restrictive lifestyle, he attempted to conceal his real nature not only from himself, but from his possessive mother with whom he lived in one hotel room until her death. In his work, Woolrich may have been equating murder with homosexuality. The harboring of his own sexual secrets might not differ from a delusional killer's efforts to conceal his murderous impulses. The fact that Woolrich frequently associated sex with murder in his stories might lead one to speculate that the author found sexual gratification in the graphic depiction of killing. This is an authentic noir syndrome. By creating a hallucinatory world of despair, BLACK ANGEL becomes an essential film noir. Its style mirrors the turmoil within its characters. Along with Duryea, the fine cast includes June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford and Constance Dowling. Directed with stylish flair by Roy William Neill.
  • Dan Duryea plays a pianist and songwriter who seeks shelter in a bottle whenever he gets dumped. In the opening scene, his estranged wife gives him the brush off and he goes on the first of his binges. There's a great closeup of him stumbling from one bar to the next. In the final locale, he's drunk out of his mind and banging away at a piano, and when he hits the final chord, he passes out as his head crashes down on the keyboard. Somewhere during that blurred night, we see his wife get strangled in a grisly scene where we see the hands of the killer but not the face, setting up the main plot as to who actually was the responsible party. Duryea ties the film together nicely, not an easy task given that it gets contrived in the hurry to find the murderer before an innocent man is executed. Duryea falls in love with the man's desperate wife and sets up the second round of heavy drinking when she rejects him that leads to a night in the county hospital where he goes into a surreal dream state that unlocks the mystery of the murder, all captured in vintage 40's FX. There's just enough tension here to save the film from itself, not so much the pending execution, which uses the clock on the wall and the newspaper headlines to remind us of its impending presence, but the portrayal of drinking and drunkenness which looks pretty realistic, and Duryea's performance, which remains good even in the film's laughable musical numbers in Peter Lorre's upscale night club.
  • I have stumbled onto this movie several times. It doesn't seem to make a strong impression. It's well directed and acted but packs relatively little punch.

    On the other hand, it has quite an amazing cast: Dan Duryea, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford ...! The lead female is played by an exotic June Vincent.

    What really impressed me was the composition of the scenes in the first half: Minor characters are set in the foreground and the action takes place behind them. The set decoration is brilliant.

    The plot is good but it is not the best Woolrich adaptation, by any means. But it's suspenseful and a lot of fun.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Adultery and blackmail are possible motives for murder in this low-budget mystery thriller based on Cornell Woolrich's novel "The Black Angel". A convoluted plot, flawed characters and an unexpected twist all add to the enjoyment of watching this movie and a race against time to catch the killer becomes increasingly tense as the execution date for an innocent man moves ever closer.

    Martin Blair (Dan Duryea) attempts to see his estranged wife on the night of their wedding anniversary but, on Mavis Marlowe's (Constance Dowling) instructions, is prevented from entering her apartment building. After sending her a heart-shaped brooch, he sees another man being allowed into the building to see Mavis and decides to drown his sorrows by getting drunk.

    Next day, a man who was seen leaving Mavis' apartment shortly before her body was found, is arrested for her murder. Kirk Bennett (John Phillips) admits that he was one of her ex-lovers and was being blackmailed by her. He's subsequently tried and found guilty of the crime and sentenced to death. His loyal wife Catherine (June Vincent), is convinced that Kirk is incapable of murder and so sets out to prove his innocence. Her investigation leads her to Martin who she finds suffering the effects of a severe hangover and accuses him of killing his ex. When it transpires that he has a cast-iron alibi, she asks for his help to prove Kirk's innocence and her agrees to help her.

    Martin, who's an accomplished pianist and composer, is surprised to discover that the man he saw being given access to Mavis' apartment was a nightclub owner called Marko (Peter Lorre) and so he and ex-nightclub singer Catherine decide to audition, as a double act, for work at Marko's club (Rio's). The couple prove to be a great success at Rio's and become convinced that they're on the right track when it seems that Marko may have also been blackmailed by Mavis and could also be in possession of her heart-shaped brooch. When they eventually discover that Marko couldn't have been the murderer and Martin tells Catherine that he's fallen in love with her, she rejects him and he consoles himself by going on another drinking binge. The developments that then follow prove to be a great shock to everyone concerned.

    As the main character in this movie, Martin Blair is interesting because he's a very talented musician who's so driven by his emotions that when he's dumped by Mavis, his work suffers badly and he also resorts to extreme behaviour to try to ease his pain. His habitual drinking stops during the time that he's with Catherine because he enjoys her company and becomes focused on writing songs for her, just as he had done previously for Mavis (who was also a nightclub singer and recording artiste). When his affections then transfer to Catherine and she rejects him, he predictably relapses into his self-destructive behaviour again. Dan Duryea gives a very affecting performance as this sensitive and vulnerable character who instinctively turns to alcohol as a coping mechanism.

    "Black Angel" begins impressively with a shot of Martin stood in the street outside the building where Mavis lives and then sweeps up to her floor and continues in through the window of her apartment. This piece of visual panache together with the movie's musical sequences and good supporting performances (especially from Peter Lorre) all contribute greatly to making this twisted whodunit both enjoyable and memorable.
  • dbdumonteil26 February 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    What's lacking here is a great director,someone like Robert Siodmak ("Phantom Lady" ) or Mitchell Leisen ("No man of her own").Who says Truffaut?("the bride wore black").Even flawed ,"Black Angel" is far better than the two Truffaut movies (the second being "La Sirene Du Mississipi" ) cause only an American can feel the desperate atmosphere of Cornell Woolrich's (aka William Irish)best novels and short stories.

    Generally the character who experiments tragedy is a woman ;such is not the case here.Martin is the loser,the unfortunate expiatory victim who is looking for a second chance.Some people won't accept the fact that half of the action is based on a wrong track:it's necessary to make us feel Martin's growing hope.His moonlight sonata is not only a warning,it's also a love message (look at his face when he is playing ) When Cathy tells him there can only be one man in her life ,he's got no reason to live anymore.Hence this ending a la "lost weekend" (which was released the precedent year) and these words of Martin when he says he is happy now.

    William Irish's novel was arguably not his best :the story is too close to that of "phantom lady" and Cathy becoming a singer overnight is not very plausible. But it's Dan Duryea's hope against hope and his face longing for happiness and peace of mind that will haunt you after watching this good film noir.
  • Black Angel (1946)

    What a vigorous, fast, surprising movie. This is a straight up crime film in a noir style, and Dan Duryea holds it up in his indecisive, regular guy kind of way. Duryea always has trouble as the leading man because he often plays a tough guy with a soft heart, and is a little whiny or annoying by design. It's an uncomfortable role to play, not quite sympathetic as the protagonist, not quite evil as the antagonist.

    A better B-movie, the budget just had enough room for someone like Duryea, and a small part for both Peter Lorre, who is fantastic (as usual) playing a suspicious night club owner, and Broderick Crawford, who is an oddly subdued detective. The leading woman, June Vincent, is fine in her part as an everyday woman caught up in an effort to save her husband from the death chamber, though she was chosen more for her singing than her acting. She and Duryea sing and play the piano together, and torch song music is central to the feel of the movie. Duryea might not actually be playing the piano but he does such a good job of faking it, he might have pulled it off.

    But what makes the film special? First of all, it's fast. The first twenty minutes have enough turns and dramatic climaxes for many entire movies. And then there's the filming, the visuals, which are vigorous and kinetic. The wild zoom in from the street up a tall building and into the room near the beginning is crazy--like low budget Gregg Toland from "Citizen Kane." But this is either cinematographer Paul Ivano, who is an uncredited photographer for part of "Frankenstein," believe it or not, or more likely the special effects guy, David Horsley, who helped with a whole slew of classics, including "Bride of Frankenstein," oddly enough. The scene near the end where Duryea is hallucinating is terrific, with its distortions.

    Whatever the faults of the movie (possibly the weakness of the female lead, who becomes the central character) it has so much surprise and velocity it is terrific anyway.
  • Black Angel is directed by Roy William Neill and adapted to screenplay by Roy Chanslor from the novel written by Cornell Woolrich. It stars Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford, Constance Dowling, John Phillips and Wallace Ford. Music is by Frank Skinner and cinematography by Paul Ivano.

    Kirk Bennett (Phillips) is convicted of a singer's murder, but his wife Catherine (Vincent) tries to prove him innocent with the help of the victim's estranged husband, Martin Blair (Duryea).

    For a mid 1940s film noir entry Black Angel is modest in terms of visuals and a general noir vibe, but with strong casting, intelligent scripting and a genuinely interesting mystery driving the story forward, it proves to be an enjoyable who done it?.

    Director Neill, in spite of some gaping plot questions that surface, does a fine job of dangling carrots to keep us guessing on how this will eventually pan out. He also ensures that the principal players are given room to breath, with Duryea repaying the director's approach with a great, and rare, sympathetic performance.

    A couple of technical flourishes hint at what a better film it could have been in terms of atmosphere and darkening of the mood; such as the re-creation of the murder in a swirling expressionistic haze, however, with deft observations on emotionally charged characters shaded in grey, it has enough interest to entice the film noir fan. 7/10
  • Despite starring the likes of June Vincent and Dan Duryea, this is a surprisingly good film--thanks to good writing and acting. I was particularly happy to see Duryea in the film, as he usually only got supporting roles as greasy heavies--here he's given a chance to do a lot more.

    The film begins with a woman named Mavis Marlow being killed. A guy is convicted of the crime, but his wife (Vincent) is convinced he was innocent. So, with the help of Marlow's ex-husband (Duryea) they investigate. For much of the film, they go undercover at a nightclub run by Peter Lorre but fortunately there is a lot more to this story. While the ending might perhaps be a bit hard to believe, it is pretty original and exciting. I won't say more about this, as I don't want to ruin this excellent film noir movie. I particularly can commend the film for doing so much with so little. It proves you don't need big-name actors to make a very good movie--just a lot of talent, writing and style.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you are a film noir fan, you'll want to see this for yourself no matter what anybody says. I personally was not that impressed.

    First, let me say that Dan Duryea (Martin) is excellent as a decent fellow whose weakness of drinking when he can't face a problem has serious consequences. June Vincent (Catherine) is lovely and sings well. Peter Lorre (Marko) is, well, the reason I rented this DVD. He's a treat (as always) despite his small part (more later after a "spoiler" alert).

    Disappointments: Most of the story revolves around a red herring. After the final twist, subsequent scenes just drag out the inevitable. The characters do some dumb things because they need to for the plot to work. Catherine doesn't start her investigating until *after* her husband is convicted (to add that "time crunch" element). Marko holds on to an incriminating letter that any normal person would have destroyed (because the plot needs him to). Although the rest of the actions the characters take are not unbelievable, the implications are not as fully explored as they could/should be--of the premise that Catherine is possibly risking her life to prove innocent of murder a husband who is guilty of cheating on her; of why Martin carries a torch for such a despicable woman as Mavis; of the revelation of who is innocent and who might be owed an apology; of the main twist and what being guilty and the ultimate consequences mean to the murderer. The 81 minute length of this movie may be more to blame than the scriptwriter and director, but a hint that the above situations cause internal approach-avoidance conflicts would have truly raised this film above a "B" movie to a noir classic (Duryea gets the closest to achieving this--but the intermittent drinking bouts the script gives him provide him the opportunity).

    The scenes introducing Mavis at the beginning are shot in an effective "noirish" manner, but I found most of the direction to be so-so: close-up inserts (of letters and other clues) are at incorrect angles; the camera pans during a nightclub scene and doesn't end up on anything interesting or pertinent to the plot; the sequence where Catherine is about to be caught snooping is not played out to full suspense; the last of Martin's alcoholic binge montages include a couple of pretty silly-looking shots.

    ***SPOILER ALERT!!!****************************************************** For those of you who've already seen this movie... I can't believe one reviewer here said Peter Lorre is playing a villain. Come on, now! He's playing a red herring. The only "villainous" thing Marko does is direct Lucky to twist Catherine's arm until she tells where she hid the items she was trying to steal from him. Since he didn't know she was looking for clues to clear her husband and believed she was looking for material to blackmail him (which he'd inexplicably kept!) and his motive is to hide the fact that he is an ex-convict in order to save his married daughter from embarrassment, well, his actions are not much more villainous than Catherine's pretending to be attracted to him in order to get close to his safe and rob him. After the viewer learns he is *not* the murderer, the magic of rewind can show you that, actually, Marko treats Catherine pretty decently throughout the movie and he's probably sincere when he tells her he knew who she was all along but had appreciated (more than other people, because he's an ex-con) that she was trying to make a new start. It's just that soft, "bedroom" voice of Lorre's that allows whatever he says to be interpreted as "menacing," which makes this red herring work. *I*, at least, was taken in. I thought the movie was building toward a confrontation where Marko would discover Catherine was using him and would attempt to kill her with the cry that that was why he had killed Mavis. When this didn't turn out to be the case, I thought Catherine would feel bad about her misconceptions and apologize to Marko as she'd apologized to Martin (in which case her suspicions were *not* misconceptions). She didn't.
  • Not too many people are going to mourn the passing of Constance Dowling who by all accounts was a two timing blackmailer. John Phillips has drifted into an affair with her and she's making him pay big time. So when she's found strangled and he's nearby suspicion falls on him and homicide cop Broderick Crawford makes the arrest. Phillips is scheduled to die in the gas chamber.

    That does not sit well with Phillips's wife June Vincent who is a nightclub singer. She's still working to prove her man innocent and she collaborates with Dowling's former husband, composer Dan Duryea who has a drinking problem to rival Ray Milland's in The Lost Weekend. In fact the last ten minutes of the film are dominated by a very powerful performance by Duryea, very much rivaling what Milland got an Oscar for in The Lost Weekend. I'm betting that's what attracted Duryea to the role.

    As singer and accompanist Vincent and Duryea take a job at Peter Lorre's nightclub. Lorre is known to be mobbed up to the gills and the team hopes to find answers there.

    Black Angel is a real sleeper of a noir film with great performances all around by a talented group of players. But even with a scene stealer like Peter Lorre exuding the menace he does, the film is dominated by Dan Duryea who is a tragic figure.
  • Duryea makes a great drunk. The way he looks in a couple of scenes makes me think twice about that social drink or two. Actually, the movie resembles a cheaper version of its Paramount contemporary The Blue Dahlia (1946) right down to the other Dowling sister (of the wicked eyes), this time Constance instead of Doris. The plots are pretty similar—tracking down the killer of a faithless woman, with an addled character playing a central role (William Bendix in Dahlia). In fact, the blonds Duryea & Vincent resemble a more musical version of Dahlia's Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake. I'm just sorry that the exotic Constance (Mavis) gets her neck wrung so early in this movie. That hank of hair is big enough to hide an army in.

    So, who did kill Mavis. There're not that many suspects; still, I was surprised at the outcome. There're also the expected staples of 40's noir— a surreal sequence (Duryea), a torch singer (Vincent), a guy on the run (Duryea), and some good nightclub scenes (but where's the cigarette smoke?). The atmosphere is appropriately noirish, but not as intense as it should be, which may be a reason the film tends to get overlooked. Nonetheless, the ending, with its undercurrent of the tragic, is unusually complex for a studio product.

    Unfortunately, director Neill died soon after the film's release, and after stepping up from Universal's atmospheric Sherlock Holmes series. Happily, his work, both there and here, shows a talent for interesting touches. But, it's June Vincent (Catherine) that surprised me. Her career specialized in blonde ice queens. Here, however, she brings genuine depth to what could have been a merely stereotypical role. Catch her many subtle expressions as the relationship with Martin (Duryea) evolves. In fact, she expresses an emotional conflict with Martin that makes me think she finally acts out of duty rather than heart.

    Anyway, the 80-minutes may not quite make it into the front rank of noir, but still remains a solid entry with a number of interesting angles. Besides, no film with two greats like Duryea and Lorre can afford to be passed up.
  • Contrary to what many of the other reviewers have written, this movie was released as an "A", opening at the Criterion Theatre on Broadway in NYC. My only caveat in my positive opinion of this movie is the character of Catherine who, in the novel was the "Black Angel", destroying the men she comes across in her quest to prove her husband innocent. The writers for the movie made her far too passive, and June Vincent (who I like) was far too sympathetic. Otherwise, this movie is terrific, with a special mention to Paul Ivano for his excellent photography, Frank Skinner for a truly wonderful soundtrack. A special nod should be given to gorgeous Constance Dowling who, in her few brief scenes, truly captured the essence of her character. FYI, before this movie was released, several scenes were cut (one involving Constance Dowling, and one involving Duryea and Vincent, as well as one scene in which June Vincent sings.) I know I am probably in the minority on the following opinion - but I wish someone would retire permanently that elitist description for mysteries: "Film Noir"!
  • gavin69425 November 2017
    When Kirk Bennett (John Phillips) is convicted of a singer (Constance Dowling)'s murder, his wife (June Vincent) tries to prove him innocent... aided by the victim's ex-husband (Dan Duryea).

    What you need to know: Roy William Neill (1887–1946) was an English film director best known for directing the last eleven of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, made between 1943 and 1946 and released by Universal Studios. "Black Angel" was his final film.

    There are some very stylish shots in this film, especially in the opening scene. The plot and mystery are good, maybe even great. Allegedly the original writer id not care for the script, but not being familiar with the differences I happen to like the film version.
  • Director Neill, best-known for his string of Sherlock Holmes movies, made this interesting film noir just before his untimely death. He gets off to a good start with a clever opening shot involving Dan Duryea's profile, a Wilshire Boulevard sign, and a long zoom into an apartment window.

    We immediately meet the corpse-to-be, Mavis Marlowe, a tough broad who can't even be nice to her long-suffering maid. Her estranged husband Martin Blair (Duryea) is in the lobby trying to see her, but the doorman fends him off. And who's that scuttling into the elevator? Looks like Peter Lorre, and of course that means trouble.

    Poor Kirk Bennett, one of Marlowe's blackmail victims, shows up at the wrong moment and discovers Mavis's dead body. The cop (Crawford), eager to tie up the case, is happy when Bennett is quickly convicted and sent to death row. But he's innocent, or so claims his wife (June Vincent).

    In a credulity-stretching plot device, she enlists the help of Blair to find the real killer, who must of course be the sinister Lorre (a nightclub owner named Marko). You'd think she'd be in a hurry, considering her husband is on the fast track to the gas chamber, but she & Blair decide the best way to catch Marko is by putting together an act and getting hired by his night club. The tension begins to mount, until what seems like the denouement becomes the beginning of an unexpected final chapter with a nice twist.
  • Of course, we're all familiar with the saying "The suspense is killing me!" - Right?... Well, with Black Angel, it isn't the suspense that'll kill you. No. It's the sheer boredom of it all that's gonna do you in, for sure.

    Black Angel was a very dry and uninspired "Whodunit" where it seemed to me that all of the actors were playing their parts in a state of half-stupefied sleep. I ain't kidding!

    It was the miscast actor, Dan Duryea, in particular, whose stunned character (the popular songwriter, Martin Blair) that seemed to be forever moping around in a muddled state of alcoholic amnesia. (I guess Blair was supposed to be the "black angel" who this film's title is referring to)

    Initially this amateurish Detective/Thriller started off with plenty of promising dramatic-clout. But once that snarling, queen-bitch, Mavis Marlowe got bumped off, its story took an immediate nose-dive as it continually turned over just about every melodramatic cliché in the book.

    And, speaking about actor Peter Lorre - It really killed me in a number of scenes where this 5' 3" pipsqueak was ordering everyone around, trying to be such a big, tough menace.

    Time & again, Lorre stood at least a full-head shorter in height than all the rest of the actors, including the women. Believe me, this munchkin posing as a tough guy was just too funny for words.

    *Trivia Note* - Black Angel was director Roy William Neill's last film. The following year, at the age of 59, he died of a heart attack.
  • rmax3048232 July 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    Seeing this referred to so often as a "noir" raises the question, "What does 'noir' mean?" Usually it suggests a despairing mood, stark lighting and odd camera angles, and a femme fatale. I think that's what the Frogs originally had in mind. But using those criteria rules out films like "Black Angel." True, it was released in 1946, is in black and white, stars Dan Duryea, and involves a deadly serious search for a murderer, but that's about it. If our definitions get too generous, then Charlie Chan movies wind up in the "noir" category too.

    Roy William Neal, the proficient director who gave us a couple of Universal's Sherlock Holmes, has given us a straightforward murder mystery that lacks a lot of tension because of its weak structure -- Peter Lorre is in this, why? -- and an ending that is a variation on the "it-was-all-a-dream" climax, only in this case a nightmare. I have no idea who or what the title, "Black Angel", refers to. All the women here are perfectly normal. But I suppose there had been a successful "Blue Dahlia," "Black Dahlia", "Blue Gardenia," and "Fallen Angel" -- so, why not? Whatever happened to gardenias, by the way? You never hear about them anymore.

    I'd never heard of June Vincent, the girl in the case, but whatever her acting talents, she has an admirable bosom. I kind of like Dan Duryea too. If his acting range and this role were part of a Venn diagram there would be considerable overlap. He's not his usual woman-slapping cad, but his whiny voice projects a weakness that fits the character. I also rather like him because he was a graduate of the same college I attended. (Well, what the hell.) There's no particular reason to get into the plot. Duryea and Vincent team up to find out the real murderer of Duryea's wife -- before Vincent's husband is executed after having been mistakenly convicted of the crime. There's nothing shameful about the film. Everything in it is pretty routine.
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