Thursday, May 27, 2010


A run-of-the-mill "angel visitation" movie; its main claim to being different is that it is set in the old West. Up in a high-toned bureaucratic Heaven, it is discovered that Duke Byron's name is missing from the Book of Life, meaning the man has no soul (not in a James Brown way, but in an everlasting spirit way), and his proper fate as recorded in the Book of Destiny, and involving marriage to Drusilla, a schoolteacher, may not come to pass. An angel named Mike is sent down to set Duke, a cocky, nasty big shot in a small mining town, on the path to righteousness by getting him together with Drusilla, though he's told he can’t perform any miracles. When Mike first appears, he is mistaken for The Kansas City Kid, a hired assassin, but when he saves Duke's life after the real Kid attacks, Duke takes Mike under his wing and soon the angel is fixing Duke up with Drusilla and attending to a sickly young boy who worships Duke.

This film suffers in comparison to two other angel movies released in the same twelve-month period, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and THE BISHOP'S WIFE. This one is more earthbound, less whimsical and imaginative. The bland Robert Cummings, as Mike, is no match for either Henry Travers or Cary Grant, the angels in the other two films. Brian Donlevy brings some spark to his role as Duke, and makes his gradual transformation to good guy fairly believable. Marjorie Reynolds (the co-singer of "White Christmas" in HOLIDAY INN) matches Cummings for blandness as a supposedly saucy chorus girl. Definitely a lesser, non-essential fantasy film [FMC]

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