1987, Movies

Angel Heart (1987, Alan Parker)

This is an over-stylized but interesting attempt at reviving American Film Noir in a decade in which it could be presumed dead and it’s combined with an interesting genre-mashing twist.

There are some obvious problems: For one, the accents are nonexistent. DeNiro doesn’t try a Cajun accent, neither does Bonet – and what’s with the flat female “love interests”? – and Rampling is the wrong kind of French – though at least she’s actually French, which is something.

Another problem is the soundtrack, which starts out full of ‘80s cool jazz sax, completely fucking with the tone of the movie and momentarily confusing me about what decade this is set in. However, the score has this great repeated theme (important to the plot) which is great. If they could leave out the stupid ‘80s drums, we’d be set.

Rourke is (mostly) excellent as the ‘80s film equivalent of Altman’s (and Gould’s) version of Marlowe. The film captures a lot of the great “little man, big problems” nature of classic noir but with enough of a revisionist bent to make it feel like a new spin on a very tired old formula.

SPOILERS

The genre-mashing twist is that this is actually more of a horror movie featuring the usual white fears about voodoo, and hiding in a film noir plot with using noir motifs rather than horror motfis.

8/10

  • Directed by Alan Parker
  • Produced by Alan Marshall, Elliott Kastner
  • Screenplay by Alan Parker, Based on Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg
  • Starring
    • Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel
    • Robert De Niro as Louis Cyphre
    • Lisa Bonet as Epiphany Proudfoot
    • Charlotte Rampling as Margaret Krusemark
    • Stocker Fontelieu as Ethan Krusemark
    • Brownie McGhee as Toots Sweet
    • Michael Higgins as Dr. Albert Fowler
    • Elizabeth Whitcraft as Connie
    • Charles Gordone as Spider Simpson
    • Dann Florek as Herman Winesap
    • Kathleen Wilhoite as Nurse
    • Pruitt Taylor Vince as Detective Deimos
    • Sugar Blue as Harmonica (Toots Sweet Band)
    • Pinetop Perkins as Piano (Toots Sweet Band)
    • Deacon John Moore as Lead guitar (Toots Sweet Band)
    • Lillian Boutte as Vocalist (Toots Sweet Band)
  • Music by Trevor Jones
  • Cinematography by Michael Seresin
  • Edited by Gerry Hambling
  • Production company: Carolco Pictures
  • Distributed by Tri-Star Pictures
  • Release date: March 6, 1987
  • Running time: 113 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Budget: $18 million
  • Box office: $17 million (domestic)

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