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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Angel Heart (1987)

Angel Heart is a 1987 horror movie written and directed by Alan Parker, starring Mickey Rourke, Lisa Bonet and Robert De Niro. The film is adapted from the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, and is generally faithful to the novel, but it has a more somber tone.

A highly atmospheric film, Angel Heart combines elements of film noir, hard-boiled detective stories and horror.

Rourke plays Harry Angel, a seedy private investigator in 1955 New York City. Louis Cyphre (De Niro) hires Angel to locate Johnny Favorite, a popular big band crooner who was severely injured in World War II and hospitalized with profound brain damage. Cyphre discovers that the hospital falsified Favorite's records, and wants Angel to find out what happened, as Favorite owed a debt to Cyphre.

But there's more to the case than initially appears, as the debt in question is Favorite's soul, and Cyphre is not human – his very name, Louis Cyphre, is a play on words, sounding like Lucifer when said out loud. His true objective is strongly hinted at by the "egg scene," in which Cyphre eats, with great gusto, an egg – after remarking that in many cultures it represents the soul.

Angel travels to New Orleans as he digs deeper into the case, delving into a world of voodoo and satanism and growing increasingly worried for his own safety and sanity. As Harry Angel discovers more and more of the truth behind Favorite's fate, he experiences flashbacks of satanic rituals, a black mass and a string of murders. He meets Epiphany Proudfoot (Bonet), daughter of a voodoo practitioner who knew Favorite. Notable is the film's disturbing twist ending, in which Angel must finally face the fact that he is Johnny Favorite himself, having abducted and, through a satanic ritual, taken the place and identity of the original Harry Angel, a soldier returning from the war whom he (Favorite) randomly picked off the street. Favorite had promised his soul to the Devil in exchange for worldly success, but then tried to renege by taking the place of another. It is only after he realizes his true identity that Cyphre can claim what is his: Favorite's very soul. Over the end credits, there is a lengthy sequence of Angel descending in a rackety old elevator, apparently on his way to Hell.

Rourke's effective performance anchors the film. DeNiro offers a memorable performance in an atypical role, as a refined but palpably sinister character reportedly based on Martin Scorsese's mannerisms. Charlotte Rampling and blues singer Brownie McGhee are memorable in their rather small roles.


01.Harry Angel - Courtney Pine

02.Honey Man Blues - Bessie Smith

03.Nightmare - Courtney Pine

04.Girl Of My Dreams - Courtney Pine

05.I Got This Thing About Chicken - Courtney Pine

06.The Right Key But The Wrong Keyhole - Lillian Boutte

07.Rainy,Rainy Day - Brownie McGee

08.Looking For Johnny - Courtney Pine

09.Bloodmare - Courtney Pine

10.Johnny Favourite - Courtney Pine

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