Johnny Angel

Premiered Oct. 25, 1945: JOHNNY ANGEL, starring George Raft, Claire Trevor, and Signe Hasso. Directed by Edwin L. Marin (Invisible Agent, Nocturne, Lady Luck). Raft plays a sea captain who encounters his father’s ship adrift at sea. He goes aboard to investigate and discovers signs of a violent struggle and the entire crew missing. After coming home to port in New Orleans, Raft takes it upon himself to find out what happened to his father, and proceeds to run around town in his sea captain’s uniform behaving like a belligerent bully in pursuit of answers. JohnnyAngelThe initial premise is great, but things go downhill quickly. The biggest problem is Raft’s stiff-as-a-board performance. His rigid tough guy delivery worked in gangster films, but a “good guy” role requires more range, and Raft simply doesn’t deliver. However, he’s not solely to blame. The script drags the story through several unnecessary scenes with meandering dialog that do nothing to advance the story. In fact, the bulk of the mystery is revealed all at once in a single expository monologue by Signe Hasso about half-way through the film, and quite honestly, this information could’ve been disclosed much sooner, and in a more interesting manner. Ultimately, the underlying mystery is simply not deep enough to warrant a full 80 minute movie, so a number of scenes end up feeling like filler, which means we’re treated to far more of Raft’s uninspired performance than is necessary. On a positive note, some great supporting performances provide much-needed bright spots in the film. Hoagy Carmichael, as a laconic cab driver who always happens to be in the right place at the right time, is a joy to watch, and Marvin Miller, as Raft’s boss, “Gusty”, is delightfully petulant as a bloated man-boy who can’t handle his streetwise wife (Claire Trevor). With a different lead actor and some smart editing, this could’ve been a respectable mystery, but unfortunately, we must give Johnny Angel only 1.5 out of 5 fedoras.

1.5 Fedoras

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2 thoughts on “Johnny Angel

  1. QA from the field. FYI: On my iPhone your Fedora rankings are displaying the opposite of the stated score. It’s all white fill but for the unawarded fedoras and half fedoras.

    Thus 4 and a half fedoras looks like this: (Screen grab:)

    >

    Like

    • The fedora graphic had a transparent background, so the white-filled fedoras disappeared against the white background in the emails. But now a black background has been embedded into the graphic, so all should be okay. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Like

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