Angel Heart (1987)

R | 113 mins | Drama, Mystery | 1987

Director:

Alan Parker

Writer:

Alan Parker

Cinematographer:

Michael Seresin

Editor:

Gerry Hambling

Production Designer:

Brian Morris

Production Companies:

Carolco Pictures , Winkast-Union
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HISTORY


       Fallen Angel was a working title for the project, according to a 7 Nov 1978 DV item.
       A 21 Aug 1978 Publishers Weekly news brief announced that rights to William Hjorstberg’s novel, Falling Angel , had been optioned by Paramount Pictures, with Hjorstberg set to write the screenplay adaptation. At the time, Robert Evans was slated to produce and John Frankenheimer to direct, according to a 28 Apr 1986 DV article. Later, Dick Richards replaced Frankenheimer and actor Dustin Hoffman was being considered for the lead role.
       According to production notes from AMPAS library, director Alan Parker was interested in Falling Angel for several years before producer Elliott Kastner gave a copy of the novel to him in early 1985. After signing on to write and direct, Parker changed several aspects of the story, as stated in 3 May 1986 Screen International article, including adding New Orleans, LA, as a setting, and changing the year in which the story took place from 1959 to 1955, so that the film could have “an older look.”
       In an Apr 1987 issue of Box, Parker stated that casting Robert De Niro as “Louis Cyphre” was not easy. Before accepting the role, De Niro went with Parker to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood; there, the actor read the script at a mission, wanting to “feel and smell the location to make sure he was comfortable with everything.” Mickey Rourke, who was cast prior to De Niro as the character, “Harry Angel,” was intimated by De Niro at the start of filming, and Parker believed ... More Less


       Fallen Angel was a working title for the project, according to a 7 Nov 1978 DV item.
       A 21 Aug 1978 Publishers Weekly news brief announced that rights to William Hjorstberg’s novel, Falling Angel , had been optioned by Paramount Pictures, with Hjorstberg set to write the screenplay adaptation. At the time, Robert Evans was slated to produce and John Frankenheimer to direct, according to a 28 Apr 1986 DV article. Later, Dick Richards replaced Frankenheimer and actor Dustin Hoffman was being considered for the lead role.
       According to production notes from AMPAS library, director Alan Parker was interested in Falling Angel for several years before producer Elliott Kastner gave a copy of the novel to him in early 1985. After signing on to write and direct, Parker changed several aspects of the story, as stated in 3 May 1986 Screen International article, including adding New Orleans, LA, as a setting, and changing the year in which the story took place from 1959 to 1955, so that the film could have “an older look.”
       In an Apr 1987 issue of Box, Parker stated that casting Robert De Niro as “Louis Cyphre” was not easy. Before accepting the role, De Niro went with Parker to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood; there, the actor read the script at a mission, wanting to “feel and smell the location to make sure he was comfortable with everything.” Mickey Rourke, who was cast prior to De Niro as the character, “Harry Angel,” was intimated by De Niro at the start of filming, and Parker believed it helped intensify the early scenes between Angel and Cyphre.
       According to the 28 Apr 1986 DV article, the budget for Angel Heart was $18 million. The production was independently financed by executive producers Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar, who planned to independently distribute the film as well, according to the 3 May 1986 Screen International article. Though Parker wanted to shoot the film in black and white, he realized it was not a commercially viable option, so he worked with set and costume designers to remove all primary colors, giving the film a “monochromatic look” similar to that of a film noir, as stated in the Apr 1987 Box .
       Production charts in the 1 Apr 1986 HR stated that shooting began 31 Mar 1986, after a week of rehearsals, according to production notes. Four weeks of filming took place in New York City before the production moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, for another seven weeks, with a wrap date scheduled for 22 Jun 1986, as stated in a 26 Apr 1986 Screen International news item. Over seventy-eight locations were used in the film, including “Eldridge Street in the Lower East Side” of New York City, and Harlem. As stated in production notes, post-production took place in Europe, and, starting with 400,000 feet of film, editors took four months to finish a “first cut of the film.”
       A 25 Feb 1987 DV news item announced that the film had earned an ‘R’ (Restricted) rating from the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA) after the two previous versions submitted to the MPAA received ‘X’ ratings. Audiences in Montreal, Canada, were able to see the uncut version of Angel Heart , including ten seconds of the sex scene between Rourke and Bonet which were cut from the version screened in the U.S., as stated in an 11 Mar 1987 LAT brief.
       The film opened on 820 screens in the U.S. and Canada, according to a 2 Mar 1987 HR article, and critical reception was mixed. Rourke’s performance was praised as a standout, along with the technical aspects of the film, namely production design, cinematography, and music. However, Parker’s script received criticism for being convoluted and exposition-heavy; in her 6 Mar 1987 LAT review, Sheila Benson stated, “there are gaps in the story, a crucial lack of parallelism about the murders, one interview in which Rourke makes amazing leaps of knowledge from we-don’t-know-where. But [Rourke’s] performance that fuels it all…may be enough to carry us.” Critics generally agreed that the film was not deserving of its previous X rating, although they predicted the controversy might help box-office earnings.
       According to a 16 Jan 1987 Publishers Weekly news item, Warner Books released an updated paperback version of William Hjorstberg’s novel prior to the film’s Mar 1987 opening.
       A 1 Oct 2008 DV article announced that producer Michael De Luca, along with Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta, optioned remake rights to Parker’s film as well as the film rights to Hjorstberg’s novel.

       End credits contain the following written statement: “This Motion Picture was made with the help of the City of New York Mayors Office for Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, and the Louisiana State Film Commission.”


The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Emily Barton, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1987
pp. 8-9.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1978.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1986
p. 1, 13.
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1987
p. 1, 21.
Daily Variety
1 Oct 2008
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1987
p. 3, 58.
Los Angeles Times
6 Mar 1987
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
11 Mar 1987.
---
New York Times
6 Mar 1987
p. 5.
Publishers Weekly
21 Aug 1978.
---
Publishers Weekly
16 Jan 1987.
---
Screen International
26 Apr 1986.
---
Screen International
3 May 1986.
---
Variety
4 Mar 1987
p. 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Special appearance by
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Toots Sweet Band
Tap dancer
Voodoo drums
Voodoo dancers
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna Present
An Alan Parker Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Cam asst
Cam asst
2d cam op
2d cam asst
Steadicam op
Supv elec
Chief elec
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir, N.Y.
Asst art dir, N.O.
FILM EDITORS
Eff ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec, N.Y.
Set dec, N.O.
Prop master
Asst prop
Asst prop
Lead set dresser
Lead set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Sign writer
Draftsman, N.Y.
Draftsman, N.O.
Constr coord, N.Y.
Constr coord, N.O.
Key set builder
Key set builder
Key set builder
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
Ward asst
MUSIC
Orig mus
Mus eng
Saxophones played by
Courtesy of Island Records and Antilles Records
SOUND
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff asst
Film titles
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Chief make-up artist
Make-up
Hair des
Hairdresser
Spec make-up
Spec eff contact lenses
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Prod supv
Financial controller
Loc mgr, N.Y.
Loc mgr, N.O.
Loc co-ord, N.O.
Scr supv
Unit co-ord
Prod office co-ord
Asst co-ord
Asst to Mr. Parker
Asst to exec prod
Asst to exec prod
Asst to exec prod
Loc auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Horse wrangler
Animal trainer
Craft service
Craft service
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.Y.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
Prod asst, N.O.
DGA trainee
London office
Unit pub
Unit pub
Unit stills
Transportation co-ord, N.O.
Transportation capt, N.Y.
Transportation capt, N.O.
Dispatcher, N.O.
Exec in charge of prod
STAND INS
Stunt co-ord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg (New York, 1978).
SONGS
"Girl of My Dreams," written by Sunny Clapp, performed by Glenn Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra, courtesy of MCA Records
"I Cried for You," performed by Glenn Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra, courtesy of MCA Records
"Auld Lang Syne," performed by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, courtesy of MCA Records
+
SONGS
"Girl of My Dreams," written by Sunny Clapp, performed by Glenn Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra, courtesy of MCA Records
"I Cried for You," performed by Glenn Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra, courtesy of MCA Records
"Auld Lang Syne," performed by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, courtesy of MCA Records
"Honey Man Blues," performed Bessie Smith, courtesy of CBS Records
"Soul on Fire," performed by Laverne Baker
"Zu Zu Mamou," written by Malcolm John Rebennack, performed by Dr. John
"Sh-Boom," written by William R. Edwards, Carl Feaster, Claude Feaster, James C. Keyes and Floyd Franklin McRae, performed by The Chords, courtesy of Warner Special Products
"Fenesta Che Lucive," written by Mario Rusca, performed by Franco Corelli, courtesy of Capitol Records
"Sunny Land," written and performed by John Lee Hooker, courtesy of Everest Records
"Rainy Rainy Day," by Brownie McGhee
"The Right Key, The Wrong Keyhole," written by Clarence Williams and Eddie Green
"Basin Street Blues," written by Spencer Williams
"Gospel Song," written by Anthony Evans.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Fallen Angel
Release Date:
1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 6 Mar 1987
Production Date:
31 Mar--22 Jun 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Carolco Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 July 1987
Copyright Number:
PA336373
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
113
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28344
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1955 New York City, private detective Harry Angel receives a call from Herman Winesap, a lawyer, who arranges a meeting between Angel and Winesap’s client, Louis Cyphre. Angel meets Cyphre in Harlem, in the back room of a building that houses a church. Cyphre, who has long, sharp fingernails and wears a pentagram ring, asks Angel to seek out Johnny Favorite, a singer, whose real name is Jonathan Liebling. After being injured in World War II, Johnny developed amnesia and was admitted to the Sarah Dodd Nursing Home in Poughkeepsie, New York. Cyphre wants to know if Johnny is still alive, because the singer owes him a debt, and orders Angel to be discreet. In Poughkeepsie, Angel gains access to Johnny’s file by posing as a surveyor for the National Institute of Health, and finds a document stating that Johnny was transferred in December 1943. Angel learns that Dr. Albert Fowler signed the order, and later breaks into Fowler’s home and discovers a stash of morphine in the refrigerator. When Fowler returns home, Angel demands information about Johnny, threatening to expose the doctor’s drug addiction if he does not talk. Fowler says that a man named Edward Kelly paid him $25,000 to fake a transfer document for Johnny so that he could be secretly released. Kelly and a female friend then took Johnny, saying they were going back home, somewhere in the South. Hoping to coerce more information, Angel locks Fowler in a room, forcing him to suffer withdrawal symptoms, and leaves to get food. Upon his return, Angel finds Fowler dead, having shot himself in the eye. At a restaurant in New York City, Angel tells ... +


In 1955 New York City, private detective Harry Angel receives a call from Herman Winesap, a lawyer, who arranges a meeting between Angel and Winesap’s client, Louis Cyphre. Angel meets Cyphre in Harlem, in the back room of a building that houses a church. Cyphre, who has long, sharp fingernails and wears a pentagram ring, asks Angel to seek out Johnny Favorite, a singer, whose real name is Jonathan Liebling. After being injured in World War II, Johnny developed amnesia and was admitted to the Sarah Dodd Nursing Home in Poughkeepsie, New York. Cyphre wants to know if Johnny is still alive, because the singer owes him a debt, and orders Angel to be discreet. In Poughkeepsie, Angel gains access to Johnny’s file by posing as a surveyor for the National Institute of Health, and finds a document stating that Johnny was transferred in December 1943. Angel learns that Dr. Albert Fowler signed the order, and later breaks into Fowler’s home and discovers a stash of morphine in the refrigerator. When Fowler returns home, Angel demands information about Johnny, threatening to expose the doctor’s drug addiction if he does not talk. Fowler says that a man named Edward Kelly paid him $25,000 to fake a transfer document for Johnny so that he could be secretly released. Kelly and a female friend then took Johnny, saying they were going back home, somewhere in the South. Hoping to coerce more information, Angel locks Fowler in a room, forcing him to suffer withdrawal symptoms, and leaves to get food. Upon his return, Angel finds Fowler dead, having shot himself in the eye. At a restaurant in New York City, Angel tells Cyphre he will not continue the investigation because he doesn’t want to be a suspect in Fowler’s death; however, Cyphre offers $5000, and Angel agrees to keep working. Suspicious of Cyphre, Angel searches the building in Harlem where they first met and spots the back of a veiled woman in black, sitting in the pews alone, but he is attacked by two men before he can see her face. Angel later meets with Connie, a former secretary, who researched Johnny’s past and found out that Spider Simpson, a former band mate, is still alive and living in a nearby hospice; however, she wasn’t able to locate Toots Sweet, another musician friend of Johnny’s. Connie also tells Angel that Johnny was once engaged to Margaret Krusemark, whose father, Ethan, is a wealthy man in Louisiana. Sometime later, Angel makes a voice recording for Cyphre, informing him that Toots Sweet is in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Margaret may be there too. Angel mentions Evangeline Proudfoot, a black woman who ran a store in Harlem, who was also a former lover of Johnny’s. Angel goes to Coney Island to search for Madame Zora, a palm reader who Johnny frequently saw. There, he learns that Madame Zora is Margaret Krusemark, and that she returned to Louisiana. In New Orleans, Angel makes an appointment to see Margaret for a palm reading at her home. There, he confesses that he is looking for Johnny, and Margaret says he is dead. Before he leaves, Angel notices Margaret is wearing a pendant with a pentagram. Angel searches for Evangeline Proudfoot and learns she is also dead. At Evangeline’s grave, Angel spots her daughter, Epiphany, and Epiphany’s baby son. Angel follows Epiphany to her home and asks about Johnny, but Epiphany claims she doesn’t know him. He flirts with her and leaves his contact information. That night, Angel finds Toots Sweet at a blues club, but Toots refuses to talk. Later, Angel follows Toots to a voodoo ceremony where Toots plays music and Epiphany dances with a chicken, slices it open, and drizzles its blood over her body. Angel follows Toots home and threatens him with a knife. Toots reveals that Epiphany is a mambo priestess, and Angel notices that Toots has a pentagram engraved on a gold tooth. That night, Angel dreams of the woman in black from the Harlem church, and wakes to find Sterne and Deimos, two policemen, in his room. Sterne informs him that Toots was found dead, gripping the note with Angel’s name and hotel room that Angel gave to Epiphany. Angel says he is working for Winesap, but reveals nothing more. Later, Angel searches for Margaret and finds her dead at home, her heart ripped out of her body. At a dock, two men and a dog attack Angel, warning that Ethan Krusemark wants him to leave Louisiana. Angel finds Epiphany and accuses her of framing him as Toots’s murderer. Epiphany denies having any part in the murder and suggests Johnny may be to blame. Cyphre comes to Louisiana and meets Angel, who proposes that Johnny murdered Toots and Margaret. That evening, Epiphany visits Angel at his hotel and tells him that Johnny, who she now admits is her father, was evil according to Evangeline. Angel and Epiphany dance and have sex. Angel falls into a trance, seeing images of blood, voodoo orgies, and the woman in black. When Epiphany screams, Angel comes to and finds that he has been choking her. The next morning, Angel sees Krusemark’s men in town and fights them. He finds Krusemark at a nearby horse race, and Angel confirms that Krusemark helped his daughter Margaret by posing as Edward Kelly, paying off Dr. Fowler to remove Johnny from the nursing home. Krusemark takes Angel to a shed for privacy, and explains that Johnny sold his soul to Satan in exchange for stardom. After his release from the nursing home, Johnny tried to evade Satan by performing an obscure black magic rite, kidnapping a young soldier in Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve in 1943 in order to steal his soul. Angel is disturbed, remembering that he was in Time’s Square on the same night. According to Krusemark, Johnny performed a ceremony on the soldier in which he ate the man’s heart. Angel learns that the victim’s dog tags are locked in a vase at Margaret’s house. Angel leaves the room momentarily and returns to find Krusemark dead, slumped over a boiling pot of gumbo. At Margaret’s home, Angel finds dog tags with the name “Harold Angel” and screams. Cyphre appears, and Angel deduces that his name, Louis Cyphre, is a cipher for Lucifer. Cyphre’s eyes turn yellow, and he says that Angel killed Fowler, Toots, Margaret, and Krusemark under Cyphre’s direction, since Johnny’s soul belongs to Cyphre and is now inside Angel’s body. Cyphre disappears and reappears outside Angel’s hotel room dressed as the woman in black. Angel arrives to find the police there, surrounding Epiphany’s corpse. Epiphany is wearing Angel’s dog tags around her neck. Nearby, her son’s eyes turn yellow. Angel takes the blame for the murder and Sterne tells him he is “going to burn for this.” Later, an elevator descends with Angel inside.
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Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
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