Johnny Angel (1945)

“I didn’t come here for regrets.”

On a sea voyage, steamship captain, Johnny Angel (George Raft) comes across what appears to be an abandoned ship on the high seas. The abandoned ship is the SS Emmeline Quincy from New Orleans and is captained by Johnny Angel’s father (J. Farrell MacDonald). There are no signs of life on board, but there are signs of a struggle; the radio is smashed and there’s blood on the ship’s deck. Johnny, unable to find any trace of his father, tows the ship back to New Orleans.

Both Johnny and his father work for the Gustafson shipping company, and his father’s ship delivered a load of steel rails to Casablanca and returned with mahogany. As far as Gusty (Marvin Miller) the head of Gustafson Shipping is concerned, there was nothing unusual about the trip, and he remains remarkably calm and unconcerned about the missing crew and its captain. Gusty seems more interested in discovering where his flashy wife, ex-nightclub singer Lily (Claire Trevor) spends her evenings than in solving the mystery of the missing crew, and Johnny decides to investigate on his own. His quest takes him into the bars of the French Quarter where he pursues a mysterious French girl (Signe Hasso).

The film’s settings–the fog-wrapped sea and port of New Orleans add a great deal of atmosphere to the film and compliment the mystery, and ultimately the film is heavy on atmosphere and light on plot. George Raft is a believable tough-guy–certainly someone you wouldn’t want to cross, but his bullish tactics reveal a tendency to overlook the odd clue. The whimsical, slow-paced and sagacious taxi driver Celestial O’Brien (Hoagy Carmichael) assists Johnny in his search for the truth. Some of the characters merit further development, but Johnny Angel, directed by Edward Marin is a decent vehicle for Raft.

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