Sog.: dalla pièce Cristilinda (1926) di Monckton Hoffe. Scen.: Philip Klein, Henry Roberts Symonds. F.: Ernest Palmer, Paul Ivano. M.: Barney Wolf. Int.: Janet Gaynor (Angela), Charles Farrell (Gino), Natalie Kingston (Lisetta), Henry Armetta (Masetto), Guido Trento (il sergente Neri), Alberto Rabagliati (un poliziotto), Gino Conti (un poliziotto). Prod.: William Fox per Fox Film Corporation. DCP 4K. D.: 102’. Bn.
After the phenomenal success of 7th Heaven, Fox reunited director Frank Borzage with stars Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell for this 1928 follow-up, which fully equals its predecessor in its intensity of feeling and spiritual mise-en-scène. Gaynor won the first Academy Award for Best Actress (which included her work in 7th Heaven and Sunrise) for her portrayal of Angela, a girl of the Neapolitan streets who becomes the model for a portrait painted by struggling artist Farrell; fate forces them apart when Janet is sent to prison, but reunites them when, upon her release, she finds her portrait hanging in a church, reframed as a Madonna. Once again, Borzage conflates the romantic and the religious to devastating effect. The final images, in which Farrell carries Gaynor through the swirling fog of the Bay of Naples, constitute one of the most magnificent and moving passages in all of silent film.
“A picture of wonderful beauty, entitled Street Angel, was presented by William Fox at the Globe Theatre last night. This entrancing production was directed by Frank Borsage [sic], who guided the destinies of the pictorial version of 7th Heaven. In it the leading roles are finely portrayed by Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. Never has the camera been used quite so effectively and artistically as it is in this subject, for in the background of the sombre side of Naples there are the compelling shadows, the inspiring old arches, the slender iron railings over the foot-worn steps and, in many of the scenes, there hangs a soft mist through which the characters fade gradually from view […]. All these scenes are so marvelously photographed, that even without considering the story or the acting, they are always a source of admiration. It is indeed a picture which possibly more than any other reveals the strides made in motion picture camera work” (Morduant Hall, “The New York Times”, April 10, 1928).
By courtesy of Park Circus.
Restored in 2019 in 4K by 20th Century Fox in collaboration with MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art at Cineric and Audio Mechanics laboratory from a nitrate composite print (and, for Quick Millions, from a composite duplicate safety fine grain master) held at MoMA.