The Night Angel (1931) Poster

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Kept Me Fascinated Through The End, But Ultimately Failed
boblipton25 June 2019
Prosecutor Fredric March has convicted Alison Skipworth of various crimes and she is imprisoned. What to do about her daughter, Nancy Carroll? In the ordinary course events, she would be declared a minor without a guardian and sent to a juvenile reformatory. Under the infuence of his mother, Katherine Emmet, March has her sent to a charity hospital for training. She hates it. He visits her there, to see how she is getting along. She hates him. He keeps going back to see her. When her mother is released from prison, she runs away, back to her mother. March goes to see how she is getting along. Ex-carnival strongman Alan Hale dopes his drink. Nancy takes him to a safe house and tends him until he sobers up. Then in comes Hale, who is so angry with her that he proceeds to beat her. March arises and they struggle.

Edmund Goulding wrote and directed this movie, a straight dramatic role for Miss Carroll; except for one short scene in which she is giving testimony in court, she is a twitchy creature; in court she is magnificent. Everyone is very good in this melodramatic effort, shot in a moody, impressionistic style.

I think the issue with Miss Carroll's performance falls into two parts. She was not a strong dramatic actress, but someone more adept at light, musical-comedy parts. The other is that Goulding was, by reputation, one of those directors who showed each actor precisely how to play a part. Stronger actors like March, Mrs. Skipworth and even Hale, could fight him and make the roles their own. Miss Carroll could not.

The movie is of an Erda, a woman who drags a moral man to his doom, like Louise Brooks in PANDORA'S BOX or Marlene Dietrich in THE BLUE ANGEL. Miss Carroll here plays an unwitting, unwilling Erda, a role meant to grant her the audience's sympathy. She makes a good effort at it, but she is simply not up to the demands of the role in this otherwise noble experiment that almost works, in part because of her miscasting, in part because of what looks like a studio-mandated happy ending.
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Not all that bad
classicflm9 May 2004
I had long put off this movie due to the negative rumors I had heard about it. I must say it is quite opposite the atrocity people make it out to be. THE NIGHT ANGEL certainly is much better than Carroll's SCARLET DAWN, a complete bore thats surprisingly the only film of hers out for commercial release, though Fairbanks Jr. is quite good in it. Granted, THE NIGHT ANGEL is not March's best performance, but he's a ham to begin with. The movie itself I thought was indeed entertaining. Trivia: Marlene Dietrich was supposed to play the Nancy Carroll part, seems it was actually written for her. It didn't happen. Alison Skipworth is always a treat in any movie, and I think Carroll, though not her best performance (see CHILD OF MANHATTAN for that), pulls it off well.
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Alison's Prague Pleasure Palace
bkoganbing20 March 2013
I find it hard to believe that a director like Edmund Goulding who could create such masterpieces as Grand Hotel, The Razor's Edge, and Nightmare Alley could also come up with Night Angel. Still if you look at his credit list you'll find a whole lot of other mediocre products.

I read that Night Angel was originally intended for Marlene Dietrich. I doubt Dietrich could have put this one over. She could never play a teen even a worldly one like Nancy Carroll does here.

Nancy is Alison Skipworth's daughter and Skipworth presides over a Prague pleasure palace and styles herself the countess and certainly takes on the airs of nobility. But there's a new crusading prosecutor in Prague played by Fredric March and he conducts a prohibition style raid on her clip joint and arrests the countess Skipworth.

But then there's the problem of Carroll who is a minor and March takes an interest in her welfare. Also taking an interest in her is the club bouncer Alan Hale. Remember this girl is allegedly a minor so these two are both a pair of lechers.

I won't go further you can see this one for yourself if interested. The Citadel Film series book on The Films Of Fredric March says this might be the worst film he ever did. I've not seen all his films, but it certainly is the worst of what I have seen so far.

Alison Skipworth is the film's redeeming feature. She knows this is a Thanksgiving feast of a film and overacts accordingly.
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Tossed salad, pseudo-Czechoslovakian style
constancepetersen31 March 2003
What a movie! I watched it because I heard this was the worst film of Fredric March's career. I am inclined to agree, and I feel I am qualified to make a judgement as I've seen about three-fourths of his films. As I will expound below, I was not at all impressed with this film, and if you want to see a good Fredric March, try The Dark Angel, Smilin' Through, A Star Is Born, Best Years of Our Lives... almost any of his movies except this one! It was the first Fred flick which I didn't mind all that much that I was dozing off and missing some of it.

The only moment in this film worth even a laugh (if you can stand it almost to the end) is when Biezl and Fred's character are fighting over Nancy Carroll. Biezl's a strong man from some act, and he flips Fred over the bed, patent leather shoes, spats, and all.

If I just translate the characters of this obscure film into English in the form of a cast list, you'll know all there is to know about this tale, and won't need to bother seeing the film.

Nancy Carroll (Yula).............. The Ham (says it all)

Alan Hale (Biezl)................. The Cheese (again, says it all)

Alison Skipworth (the Countess)... The Tomato (shiny on the outside but seedy and mooshy within)

Katherine Emmett (Mrs Berkem)..... The Lettuce (wilted and lifeless)

Phoebe Foster (Theresa)........... The Hardboiled Egg (too complicated to explain)



Fredric March (Rudek Berkem)...... The Dressing on an otherwise unpalatable dish.

A true chef of the Paramount cinema kitchen could not have made head or tails of this horrible mishmash. It is best to simply put it in the dustbin, forget it existed and start fresh.
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