Air pilots -- United States -- Drama, Air pilots' spouses -- Drama, Air shows -- Drama, Man-woman relationships -- United States -- Drama

The Tarnished Angels

35mm ’Scope Print

  • Lecture

    Berkeley-based director/cinematographer Davis has worked with filmmakers such as Steven Soderbergh, Catherine Hardwicke, and Charles Burnett. He will offer an appreciation of the visual design of The Tarnished Angels.


Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Jack Carson,

Also screens (without lecture) Saturday, November 25, in the series The Art of Cinematography.

Featuring the same principals as Douglas Sirk’s celebrated Written on the Wind, and adapted by the same writer (from William Faulkner's novel Pylon), The Tarnished Angels plays out many of the earlier movie’s themes—obsession, jealousy, self-destruction, defeat—but in a different key. Hysterical Technicolor affluence is replaced here by marginal Depression-era Americana, shot by Irving Glassberg in lush, melancholy black-and-white. Rock Hudson gives one of his best performances as a New Orleans newspaperman who develops an unprofessional fascination with carnival flier Robert Stack and his wife Dorothy Malone, a blonde in a pure white dress who’s made a profession of falling. Hudson’s passivity is an effective counterpoint to Stack’s characteristic desperation; although Hudson calls Malone a creature from another planet, the shadows under her eyes mark her as all too human. The Tarnished Angels is best experienced on the big screen, where the sweep of CinemaScope gives visceral impact to the film’s fatalistic circularity, the camera repeating the fliers’ compulsive loop around the pylons.

Juliet Clark
  • George Zuckerman
Based On
  • the novel Pylon by William Faulker

  • Irving Glassberg
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 'Scope 35mm
  • 91 mins
  • Universal Pictures

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View The Tarnished Angels documents  

F is for Faulkner : The tarnished angels (program note), Harvard Film Archive, 2004

Douglas Sirk, conversations avec un témoin du siècle: le cinéaste y parle du nazism, de Brecht-- (article), Libération, Edouard Waintrop, 1997

Revivals in focus (review), Village Voice, Tom Allen, 1988

Flying (review), Village Voice, J. Hoberman, 1988

Sirk masterworks (review), Soho Weekly News, Fred Camper, 1976

Douglas Sirk (program note), National Film Theatre (London, England), Jon Halliday, 1972

La ronde de l'aube (article), Casterman (Firm), Jean Wagner, 1971

Tarnished angels, The (review), Monthly Film Bulletin, 1958

The tarnished angels (review), Variety, William Whitney, 1957

Douglas Sirk--book excerpt. A time to love and a time to die (book excerpt), Edinburgh Film Festival, Fred Camper

Displaying 10 of 13 publicly available documents.

View all The Tarnished Angels documentation on CineFiles.