directors Raymond Nassour, Kenneth W. Richardson
Somewhat maligned (one imdb.com user review reads “Bad Writing, Bad acting, Bad Editing – Great Locations!”) and super obscure, the 1965 film noir Angel’s Flight is pretty interesting. It’s named for the funicular railroad running up Los Angeles’s Bunker Hill, the structure still exists, though the hill itself and the neighborhood depicted in the film, were razed in 1969 via urban renewal.
I’d noticed the Angel’s Flight funicular railroad in another film noir, 1949’s Criss Cross, and it really caught my eye. Apparently, Angel’s Flight and Bunker Hill showed up in a bevy of films noir like Cry Danger (1951), Joseph Losey’s American re-make of M (1951), and Robert Aldrich’s classic Kiss Me Deadly (1955). I’ll have to make it a point to watch and re-watch those.
The movie itself is low budget and feeling it, but watching the movie via a rough YouTube print, cries out for restoration. To get your hands on an obscure flick, it’s worth watching, but the print doesn’t do the movie any favors.
Indus Arthur stars as a neighborhood burlesque dancer (read: “stripper”) who slashes “pretty men” when they start to get fresh. William Thourlby (the original Marlboro Man) is the drunken writer who wants to pen an ode to Angel’s Flight, falls for the dancer, and discovers her secret.
There are campish aspects to the movie, but it’s also far from the worst movie of its period and type. The camera work is actually pretty good. And then it’s got what it has: location, location, location.
There is an excellent write-up about Angel’s Flight on noiroftheweek.com by Steve Eifert. I had the pleasure of seeing the railway first-hand the very day I watched the movie (the raison d’etre for the viewing), but it’s very interesting, even if you can’t see what’s left of it in person.