Street Angel (1928)

FRANK BORZAGE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBUSA, 1928Adaptation by , , continuity by , based on the play by Cinematography by , Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by Academy Awards 1927/1928Academy Awards 1928/1929

Janet Gaynor in Street Angel

Janet Gaynor won the first Oscar for Best Actress for three films, among them this warm romance that reunited her with her Seventh Heaven co-star (and which was followed by them co-starring in ten more films). She plays a girl whose mother is dying but her family can’t afford the medicine she needs, so Gaynor hits the road looking to ply her wares in the world’s oldest profession. In desperation, she tries stealing a valuable item, which gets her caught and sent to prison but she manages to escape her native Naples and run away with circus performers. While in this new, bright world, Gaynor becomes a skilled performer, then falls in love with a sexy painter (Farrell) who wants to take her back to Naples and make an honest housewife out of her. She longs to stay with him but knows that returning home will mean facing her past and the vengeful lawmakers who are still looking for her. Beautifully photographed and featuring a cast giving fully committed, honest performances, this is a standout romance that goes further in capitalizing on the stars’ sexy chemistry than their previous film did; Sunrise is the best of the three films that Gaynor won her Oscar for, but this is the film that shows her off best, from the fiery naughtiness of her scenes with the circus to her genuine heartbreak over the relationship that must be ruined by reality.

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