|THE ANGEL WORE RED (director/writer: Nunnally Johnson; screenwriter: from the novel "The Fair Bride" by Bruce Marshall; cinematographer: Guiseppe Rotunno; editor: Louis Loeffler; music: Bronislau Kaper; cast: Ava Gardner (Soledad), Dirk Bogarde (Arturo Carrera), Joseph Cotten (Hawthorne), Vittorio De Sica (Gen. Clave), Aldo Fabrizi (Canon Rota), Arnoldo Fo (Insurgent major), Finlay Currie (Bishop), Rossanna Rory (Mercedes), Enrico Maria Salerno (Capt. Botargus); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Goffredo Lombardo; MGM; 1960)|
|"An unsatisfactory obscure
political film about the Spanish Civil War."
by Dennis Schwartz
unsatisfactory obscure political film about the
Spanish Civil War, set in 1936, that was shot in
Italy. It plays out as a vacuous forbidden love story
between a disillusioned defrocked priest (Dirk
Bogarde),on the run from the revolutionists and the
government, and a good-natured cabaret entertainer
prostitute (Ava Gardner). They are both captured by
the anti-Franco forces.
failed both as a love story and as a political story,
as the romance had no sparks and the political story
made little sense.
Nunnally Johnson ("The Three Faces of
Eve"/"The Man Who Understood Women"/"Black Widow"),
usually a screenwriter, was overwhelmed shooting in
Italy, where he was interfered with by the union, the
Mafia and the church. They demanded a daily count of
how many extras were Catholics or Commies, which
Johnson had to provide. Johnson commented he never saw
the final version, whereby the studio had final cut.
The film was received so poorly by the studio, that
the talented screenwriter Johnson never directed
based on the novel "The Fair Bride" by
Bruce Marshall. The confusing wartime
drama has the priest say at one point his faith has
failed him. That the priest, who joined the
Loyalist cause, regains his faith after Ava's death,
seemed a stretch. In any case, Johnson was
praised for writing the script and ripped for his weak
cast also includes Joseph Cotten as an American
newsman in Spain and the Italian director Vittorio De
Sica playing a disenchanted Communist general.
REVIEWED ON 1/6/2016 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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