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Black Angel

Dan Duryea , June Vincent , Roy William Neill    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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When a beautiful hard-boiled blackmailer is murdered in her swank apartment, there are any number of men who might have done it. There's Martin Blair (Dan Duryea), the drunken husband she's dumped; there's shady nightclub owner Marko (Peter Lorre); and there's Kirk Bennett (John Phillips), who was cheating on his wife with her. It's Bennett who was spotted at the crime of the scene, and it's his long-suffering wife, Catherine (June Vincent), who sets out to save him from being executed. Suspecting Marko, she teams up with Blair to perform in Marko's club and investigate. Suspense - and romance - follow as this taut murder-mystery winds its way through a maze of clues to a first-rate surprise ending. Strong performances and stylish atmosphere result in edge-of-your-seat entertainment and one of "the 25 most memorable cult films" (Andrew Sarris, Village Voice).

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Nix Pix
A sexy singer, an ex lover and a dutiful wife: classic film noir lover's triangle tinged with a race against time and singed in sparkling performances from a stellar cast. In "Black Angel" femme fatale chanteuse Mavis Marlowe (Constance Dowling) turns up dead. Kirk Bennett (John Phillips) who used to be her lover seems the natural choice for the police's prime suspect and their latest blackmail victim. No one believes Kirk's story - it is a little hard to swallow - that he found Mavis already a goner on the floor of her apartment. However, when Kirk is sentenced to death, his long-suffering, too-good-to-be-true wife, Catherine (June Vincent) begins to investigate the crime for answers of her own. She's aided by Martin Blair (Dan Duryea) Mavis' husband. The film is riddled with rich curiosities of character; Kirk's philandering innocence, Mavis' evil vixen turned victim, Catherine's never wavering devotion to her wayward hubby and Blair's nonchalant, noncommittal dedication to discovering who really killed his wife. At one point Blair even goes so far as to offer himself as Kirk's replacement, should salvation not come in time to spare him from the electric chair. It must be love! An outstanding cameo comes by way of Peter Lorre as Marco, the always spurious, never to be trusted seedy nightclub owner who happened to visit Mavis Marlowe on the night she bought the farm. It should be pointed out however, that the suspense of finding the killer gets somewhat diffused in the process and never quite reaches the par excellence caliber of say, "The Asphalt Jungle" or "Laura."
Another solid effort from Universal.The gray scale is very well balanced with deep solid blacks and whites that are almost pristine. There's a hint film grain and some age related artifacts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Angel = Mavis Marlowe June 17 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This 1946 memorable noir boasts a fine cast that includes: Peter Lorre, Dan Duryea, June Vincent, and the stunningly beautiful Constance Dowling. Based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich and directed by Roy William Neill, Black Angel's storyline hinges on the elements that comprise many noir classics. Murder, blackmail, deceit, and a race against time to prove a desperate man's innocence are the essential plot elements that propell Neill's film through the uncertainties of urban darkness. Cheating husband Kirk Bennett (John Phillips) is wrongfully convicted of murder and is sentenced to die in the electric chair. This time it is a woman, Kirk's wife Cahterine ( June Vincent) who intensifies the murder investigation. As Kirk's execution date draws near, Catherine instills the help of an alcoholic songwriter, Marty Blair (Dan Duryea). Blair is the ex-husband of the murdered woman ( Constance Dowling). The unlikely pairing uncover a trail of clues that lead them to a swarthy night club owner named Marko ( Peter Lorre). Great performances by all actors highlight the picture. Lorre is excellent as the shaddy club owner who is being blackmailed. June Vincent as Catherine gives an admirable performance as she attempts to balance emotional distance and closeness with the rejuvenated Marty. But it is Constance Dowling as Mavis Marlowe who devours her screen time with vampish presence. Mavis exudes sexual danger as a pretensiously concieted singer who lives in a posh high-rise apartment surrounded by trinkets that reaffirm her beauty and status. Why Dowling never achieved the same screen stardom as actresses such as: Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, or Rita Hayworth is mystifying. Maybe that is why films such as Black Angel are worth viewing over and over again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic , and in Glorious Black & White April 8 2014
By Big Bill TOP 100 REVIEWER
A great movie , highly recommended. And once isn't enough ; I enjoy it again every two years or so... They don't make 'em
like this anymore.
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By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Universal Pictures presents "BLACK ANGEL" (2 August 1946) (81 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- While Duryea may not be as much of a household name as some of his 40s peers, he still made memorable appearances in a string of the era's lower-profile noirs --- Black Angel sees him as an alcoholic who becomes caught up in the case when his ex is murdered; teaming up with the wife of the accused (Vincent) facing execution in spite of his innocence, he tries to track down the real killer --- A small but solid little thriller, whose gamble of placing Duryea in the good guy's shoes for once (he was better-known for nabbing the villain roles) pays dividends.

The best thing about Black Angel is undoubtedly Dan Duryea --- He plays against type as an ill-fated and very sympathetic piano-playing drunk --- His flophouse associates all mother him through his drunken stupors.

Under the production staff of:
Roy William Neill [Director]
Cornell Woolrich [novel]
Roy Chanslor [Screenplay)
Tom McKnight [Producer]
Roy William Neill [Producer]
Frank Skinner [Original Music]
Paul Ivano [Cinematographer]
Saul A. Goodkind [Film Editor]

1. Roy William Neill [aka: Roland de Gostrie]
Date of Birth: 4 September 1887 - in (ship off Ireland)
Date of Death: 14 December 1946 - London, England, UK

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