ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER
In the film, Hell is depicted as a fascinatingly torrid place, all shot in exaggerated shadow lighting that suggests an intriguing collaboration between the eschatological fantasy and film noir. Amidst this, Claude Rains (who notedly also played Mr Jordan in Here Comes Mr Jordan) maintains a wonderfully droll, sinister presence his appearances always come emphasised with subtle lighting effects. Paul Muni gives a unique performance. He is like a silent movie actor villain, all physically contorted and melodramatically overwrought menace. There is some fine humour to the scenes contrasting the rough-hewn mobster with the judges conservative lifestyle his reaction to the judges dress sense, or when his automatic assumption is to crack the judges safe rather than open it to get money, and his fiancées aghast reaction to his tough guy speak. His softening the way we see his rough, physically twisted face straighten out makes for a touching arc and the ending the film arrives at is quite sad.
The film was remade as a tv movie Angel on My Shoulder (1980) with Peter Strauss in the Paul Muni part and Richard Kiley as Nick.
Angel on My Shoulder was the final film of Archie Mayo, a director who had a long career going back to the heyday of the silent era in the 1910s. Mayo made many dramas. His sole other film of interest here is Svengali (1931) with John Barrymore as an evil hypnotist.
Modern trailer here:-
Full film available online here:-