ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER
US, 1980, 96 minutes, Colour.
Peter Strauss, Barbara Hershey, Richard Kiley, Janis Paige.
Directed by John Berry.
Angel on My Shoulder is a pleasant remake of the 1946 film with Paul Muni, Claude Rains and Anne Baxter. This time the hero is Peter Strauss and Richard Kiley is the Devil. Barbara Hershey is the secretary.
The film is also updated to 1980, the gap between the hero’s returning to Earth after his death is 30 years instead of almost immediately. There are various other changes ? some comments about changing attitudes and racism, about politics and corruption. The ending is also changed ? a more optimistic theological background which has the hero being redeemed by his good deeds and being called to Heaven rather than merely getting a better job in Hell.,
Fantasies like this were very popular during the '40s (Here Comes Mr Jordan, Heaven Can Wait). There was a revival of interest in the late 70s with Warren Beatty's remake of Here Comes Mr Jordan, called Heaven Can Wait.) During the '80s there were a number of smaller films about angels and ghosts, including The Heavenly Kid, Maxie.
1. Pleasant fantasy, of the '80s,iupdating and remake of the '40s film? Similarities and changes?
2. Telemovie and style, audience? The city, city life? Hell? Musical score?
3. The plausibility, of the plot? Audiences' ideas of Heaven and Hell? Redemption?
4. Eddie dying, the execution, his anger, being framed, going to Hell, the meaning of his life? The contrast with Smiley and Dolly?
5. The Devil in Hell, his management of Hell, his minions, Eddie at work? The furnaces? The deal, his antagonism towards Marcus? The 30 years? Going up, in the city, no bodies? Explanation of the changes, television, etc? The plan?
6. Marcus as very proper, his relationship Julie, Tony and his black aide? Relentless work? Eddie watching him, taking over, Eddie waking up and his reactions? Puzzle, cope? Eddie and his manner of talking, manners? The cigar, the drink? The friendliness with the housekeeper? His relationship with women? The Job?
7. Eddie doing Marcus's work, the speech to the kids and the hecklers and their throwing, the fight? Listening to Tony on the phone with the gangsters? Tony shot trying to save him? The meals, the table talk, his philosophy, Down to earth? His own changing? The phone call from Dolly? Smiley and Dolly at their party, their changed names, his revealing himself to them, their fears, offering the bribe, his refusal?
8. Julie and her devotion, Eddie and his response to her, becoming more humane, the jokes, missing her? Her loving Marcus? Her future with Marcus?
9. Nick, his presence and absences, his helping and advising Eddie? His disgust with Eddie's good deeds?
10. The build-p to the climax, Marcus more humane, Eddie clashing with Nick, the return to Hell, the invitation by The Stranger to go up to Heaven? The change of theological perspective?
11. The film's optimism, the possibilities of change and redemption?