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Angel On My Shoulder (1946)



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Angel On My Shoulder is sort of like Here Comes Mr. Jordan in reverse. In that film, a soul in heaven gets transported back into a human body. In this one, a soul in hell makes the same trip, though for different reasons. Both films have Claude Rains doing the work: in the earlier film, he played an angel; this time he plays the devil.

Paul Muni plays a gangster, returning with the devil to inhabit the body of a judge and corrupt him. The logic and theological soundness of the premise is as absurd as in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, but as a fantasy, the rules make just enough sense to provide a basis for the story, which is a nice character piece with some whimsical twists. I liked the way the devil's plans kept going awry even before Muni's character has his inevitable change of heart. Evil, being akin to chaos as good is to order, doesn't cooperate very well with itself, even when it tries.

Muni and Rains are fantastic, individually and together. I was dissatisfied with the closing scene, and I have mixed feelings of admiration and confusion for how the romantic subplot developed, but I enjoyed the film despite these reservations.

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