Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Jack Carson, Rock Hudson
William Faulkner (Novel, "Pylon"), George Zuckerman
Eureka Entertainment (Masters of Cinema Series - Blu-ray/DVD)
Hi-Def Master; feature length audio commentary by film critic Adrian Martin; Video Interview w/supporting actor William Schallert; Infernal Circle - video interview with critic Bill Krohn; archival interviews; original trailer; isolated music & effects track; optional English subtitles; 44-page booklet
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"The Tarnished Angels" Arrives on Masters of Cinema
U.K.'s Eureka Entertainment has assembled a fantastic package in adding Douglas Sirk's 1957 Tarnished Angels to its Masters of Cinema series, a growing collection of some of cinema's greatest films being beautifully reproduced and assembled.
Said by many, including perhaps himself, to be his best film, Tarnished Angels is rather loosely based upon William Faulkner's "Pylons" and tells the story of journalist Burke Devlin (Rock Hudson), a carnival circuit daredevil pilot (Robert Stack), his wife (Dorothy Malone), and their loyal mechanic (Jack Carson). Shot in black-and-white Cinemascope, Tarnished Angels beautifully captures Depression-era New Orleans while serving as a stellar example of cinema that is both spellbinding despite bringing to life a melodrama that is rarely seen in American theaters today.
In many ways a follow-up to Sirk's Written to the Wind, Tarnished Angels is a more realistic and even pessimistic film that honestly captures characters who are seen through an almost comfortable yet heartbreaking lens of resignation. There's really no warm and wonderful character here, and one could easily say that Sirk's film brings to life Faulkner's story better than did Faulkner.
For a film that was made in 1957, Tarnished Angels is remarkably impressive in terms of technology and action. The action, it would seem, serves as a mask for the inner turmoil being experienced by all the lead characters. Sirk's film is easily one of the earlier examples of a film that committed itself to such a stark and authentic presentation.
Irving Glassberg's lensing is an immersive experience, and while the film was made utilizing many of the same cast and crew as Written to the Wind, it's a magnificently different beast. Among the key players, it's Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone who most shine as a couple who project a detached yet frequently heartbreaking longing.
For more information on the Blu-ray release of Tarnished Angels, visit the film's Masters of Cinema page.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic