(Open Thread) Noir Side Street — “Johnny Angel”

Incoming Day. Photo by Emanuele Toscano.

Today’s noir film is 1945’s “Johnny Angel,” starring George Raft (Johnny Angel), Claire Trevor (Lilah “Lily” Gustafson), Signe Hasso (Paulette Girard), Marvin Miller (George “Gusty” Gustafson), and Hoagy Carmichael (Celestial O’Brien). Directed by Edwin L. Marin with screenplay by Steve Fisher. Based on the 1944 story, “Mr. Angel Comes Aboard,” written by Charles Gordon Booth.

The story is inspired by the mystery of the Mary Celeste, which was found adrift with no one aboard, back in 1872. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Johnny and his father are both ship captains working for the same company, the Gustafson Steamship Line. When his father’s ship, the Emmaline Quincy, doesn’t arrive on time, Johnny is sent out to find it. They board the ship and soon discover no one’s aboard, but the cargo is intact. Johnny sets off on a mission to discover what happened to the crew. For a much more detailed synopsis, you can visit this link.

Full disclosure: I watch both airings of these noir films on TCM. The first time through, I got bored halfway into it. The pacing is terrible, very uneven and slow. Raft phones in his performance; Claire Trevor has zero chemistry with Raft or Miller, and I find it difficult to believe either man buys that she could love them. The characters end up having to tell us things like how Gusty resents Johnny, rather than show us in the acting.

I give this one 2.5 unfiltered cigarette puffs, since there are many films of this type which are so much better than this one.

Next week’s film is “No Man of Her Own,” starring Barbara Stanwyck.

As always, this is an open thread, so feel free to discuss whatever you like.

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