Tarnished Angel (1938)

US / 67 minutes / bw / RKO Dir: Leslie Goodwins Pr: B.P. Fineman Scr: Saul Elkins, Jo Pagano Story: Saul Elkins Cine: Nicholas Musuraca Cast: Sally Eilers, Lee Bowman, Ann Miller, Alma Kruger, Paul Guilfoyle, Jonathan Hale, Jack Arnold (i.e., Vinton Hayworth), Cecil Kellaway, Janet Dempsey, Hamilton MacFadden, Robert Gleckler, Earle Hodgins SIC, Barry Macollum, Tommy Mack, Byron Foulger.

A crime movie that’s superficially quite lighthearted but that has far more serious undercurrents concerning the exploitative nature of fake evangelical revivalism: While the movie doesn’t come right out and say that all religious revivalists and their faith-healing brethren are frauds who’re in it for nothing more than whatever they can gouge out of—mainly poor—people who’re too naive to know any better, the implication’s there. That its practitioners regard it as a business rather than a crusade is made plain by the introduction of a character called Twisty Joe Mason (Mack). He’s described as “the greatest cripple artist in the country,” which implies there are plenty of others: Faking crippledom for “faith healers” is clearly a viable profession.

Sally Eilers as Carol/Sister Connie

Likewise, the consequences of screwing money out of people who can’t afford it—here exemplified by a hospital for sick children—aren’t spelled out but are fairly clear, as is Continue reading