- Movie Rating -

Angel (1984)

| January 13, 1984

Methinks, I detect the foul stench of a movie generated by a group of sexually over-stimulated middle-aged movie executives.  Or maybe the movie just stinks.  That’s always a possibility.  Angel is lurid trash, an uncomfortable exploitation exercise that opens up possibilities for false entries to the fan letter section of Hustler magazine.  The basic idea: Pretty California student Molly (Donna Wilkes) is a straight-A student by day but works Hollywood Blvd. at night under the name Angel.  This is a tempting premise to some very lonely and desperate males, but I kept asking myself “Where does she find the time?”

The premise alone is the launching pad for a thousand unnatural fantasies, the lurid kind that you keep in the closet to hide them from God.  That’d be just as well because I found this movie uncomfortable and so I saw it late at night so as not to have to answer the question of what I was watching.  I’m not a prude but the storyline about an underaged street walker is not something that I feel that I need to defend.

Anyway, the story has Molly moonlighting as a hooker on Hollywood Boulevard because (the movie explains) she’s waiting for her estranged father to return and works the streets to make money until he comes back.  She also explains to a concerned teacher that her lack of extracurricular activities is due to the care and feeding of her mother who has suffered a stroke.  Actually, on the street she has formed an ersatz family of street oddities.  They’re a real study, or maybe just a bag of stereotypes.  They include a transvestite (Dick Shawn), an old movie cowboy (Rory Calhoun), a street performer (Stephen M. Porter) and a weirdo painter (Susan Tyrell).

The double-life of student and street walker might have been burden enough, but right at this moment a psycho-necrophiliac (John Diehl) is cutting up fellow prostitutes right and left.  “Angel” retreats into her street family who close ranks for protection and suggests that all the prostitutes stay in pairs.

The movie, of course, comes down to a lot of Angel’s friends being murdered and an eventual confrontation with the creep.  Along the way we get lots of oddly gratuitous nudity, including a group shower scene at the prep school that has nothing to do with anything.  All for the cause of giving the slavering dogs their money’s worth I suppose.

All through this movie, I kept re-writing it in my head.  I imagined that the better through-line would have either been to drop the prep school stuff and just be an expose on what an underage girl working Hollywood Boulevard might have been, or a story of a girl who works as a prostitute within her prep school.  Either way, I would have been fascinated by the real-world implications of such a life.  Maybe I’m asking for something more real.  Sorry, I guess I’m taking my eyes off the box office potential.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Drama