Angel and the Badman Reviews
He catches the eye of the daughter in the family (Gail Russell), and he is obviously attracted to her. But, he just can't shake his past as outlaws and the law alike try to get them for whatever reason.
Now he has to look at himself and try to figure out what to do with his life.
I have been watching a lot of movies starring John Wayne lately on Hulu, and this is easily the longest one so far. It is also one of the best ones on the site.
For the first time in his career, Wayne is pulling double duty in this film. First, he is the leading man, as well as a first-time producer. Since I have no clue as to a producer's job, all I can do is judge him on his performance in front of the camera. And I have to say he does a pretty good job.
What makes this Western unique is that it focuses on the personal conflict of "Evans," while throwing everything familiar to Westerns in. The focus is on "Evan's" personal struggle more than the typical plot of a Western.
Violence in this movie is fairly tame in this movie, even by the standards of the time of its release. You get some shooting, and one fist fight (which mostly remains off-screen), and one attack from behind with an object from their surroundings. The violence is tame most likely because of the morality of the plot.
I was not impressed with the romance subplot. Actually, not the way it was handled. I found it to be pretty weak, and not given the screen time it should have had. I think that the two involved were rushed in the storyline, and not given time to develop the on-screen relationship.
I was also not impressed with the chemistry between Wayne and Russell. They had some chemistry together, but nothing impressive. In fact, I wasn't impressed with much of the chemistry between many cast members.
I did not like many of the supporting cast, many of which didn't have time to develop. The child actor in this movie was pretty annoying, and seemed to be there just to throw out some complaints as some poor comic relief that, for me, didn't even produce a chuckle.
Unlike other recent movies I've watched starring Wayne, I didn't hear any problems with audio. I did have a problem with the picture going fuzzy at times. It appears that Hulu got a bad print to upload. Also, unlike the other movies I've seen in the last couple of weeks, it appeared there was more music in the film. I didn't find any of the music helping in enhansing scenes, and can't remember any particular piece of music except a song being performed on stage in a bar scene.
Parents need not worry about the violence in this film. It's pretty mild. You can watch this movie with no problem. In fact, parents will like the moral of this story.
This is the time of the year when I come closest to giving up on the Library Project. Every year, I end up with a stack of movies I might enjoy if I saw them at a different time of year, but which just seem like so much effort to get through in the summer. One of the movies which came in today is one I've been looking forward to for some time; I saw it in high school, and I remember that it was really good and really important. However, it's not exactly lighthearted fare, so I don't know. I am not actually putting anything on hold at the library this week, because I hardly watched anything last week and have more than twenty DVDs just kind of piled up. So what I am doing right now, because it is too late for me to watch anything and still get a review in before midnight, is reviewing a movie I haven't seen in many years and actively disliked in the years when I was likely to have watched it. And yet.
John Wayne is Quirt Evans, and he is indeed a Bad Man. A gunslinger, in fact. One night, he is wounded, and he is taken in by a Quaker family. The angel is their daughter, Penelope Worth (Gail Russell). Her family takes him in and cares for him. They have vaguely heard of him, but they believe that all men can be salvaged to the side of Good, and besides, if they didn't take him in, he would die. He recuperates slowly, planning to go back to his wild ways just as soon as he's able. Penelope is pretty, but he's had pretty girls before. However, the gentle ways of the Worths start to work on him, and the better man inside Quirt is slowly being won over. The fact that he's fallen in love with Penelope doesn't exactly hurt matters. However, like any gunslinger, he has unfinished business left to face. It's possible he's putting the Worths in danger just by being there. He wants to go, but he cannot yet, and anyway, there is the whole thing about how he is in love with Penelope.
You must understand that this is all based on my memories from having seen this movie years ago. I'm not sure when the last time I saw it was, in fact, and I strongly suspect I was still living with Mom at the time. It was her favourite movie, or her favourite John Wayne movie, or her favourite of the John Wayne movies we owned. Something. All I can tell you for sure is that we watched it a [i]lot[/i]. I may not remember everything, but I can definitely remember certain of the set pieces--Penelope explaining to Quirt about why Quakers use "thee" and "thou." Taking him to meeting with them. A final showdown in the streets of a dusty Western town. I remember that Mom, who was my troop leader at the time, worked out that she could make us watch it, I think as a requirement for some badge or another. My troopmates were displeased about this, but they were nowhere near as upset as I. I wanted to make myself sick enough so that I didn't have to watch it, on the grounds that my troop would probably take out their irritation on me. It didn't work.
So why am I writing a review some twenty-five years later? Why do I own a copy? Well, to answer the last question first, I saw it for three dollars and do all sorts of random things out of a sense of nostalgia--or anti-nostalgia. And the first has no little to do with the fact that I don't have anything in backlog, which is why I missed the last two days, and it's ten o'clock and I haven't even turned my TV on today. Things like that. But also, there [i]is[/i] the fact that I can so perfectly visualize certain of those moments in the film. To me, and this is that nostalgia thing again I'm sure, [i]Angel and the Badman[/i] is the Ultimate John Wayne Western. It's a perfect encapsulation of literally dozens of other films, not all of which I've seen. Roger Ebert once asked Jimmy Stewart if he felt he could play a villain, forgetting he had already, but even when John Wayne played a bad guy, he was redeemed by the girl at the end.
Honestly, it surprised me to find out that this was a 1947 movie. In my head, I put it as one of those forgettable films he made before [i]Stagecoach[/i]. John Wayne was an actual star at this point, one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood, and this really doesn't seem like a movie for a star. It seems not unlike the town, really--small and grim and dusty. I had mentally pegged it as about ten years earlier. The days when he was kind of drifting through Hollywood, hoping to catch someone's attention and make it as a star, finally. It's the first film John Wayne produced, but that was more a show of muscle-stretching than anything else, I think. I keep telling myself that I will watch this movie again, but I'm not sure it's true. Perhaps this movie is more perfect in my head, even though I don't like it, as an example of an archetype. I have given it a positive review mostly because I think it is a symbol of something, though whether that is to me or to John Wayne, I am not sure.