Fallen Angels (American TV series)

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Fallen Angels
VHS cover
Also known asPerfect Crimes (in Europe)
Genre Anthology
Developed by Steve Golin
Presented byLynette Walden (season 1)
Narrated by Miguel Ferrer (season 2)
Opening theme Elmer Bernstein
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes15 (list of episodes)
Executive producer Sydney Pollack
ProducersSteve Golin
William Horberg
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesPropaganda Films
Mirage Enterprises
Original network Showtime
Picture format 35mm
Original releaseAugust 1, 1993 (1993-08-01) 
November 26, 1995 (1995-11-26)

Fallen Angels is an American neo-noir anthology television series that ran from August 1, 1993 to November 26, 1995 on the Showtime pay cable station and was produced by Propaganda Films. No first-run episodes were shown in 1994.


The series was executive produced by Sydney Pollack and produced by Steve Golin and others. The theme song was written by Elmer Bernstein and the original music was written by Peter Bernstein.

Period torch songs by performers like Patti Page and Billie Holiday were used periodically.

In Europe, the show is known as Perfect Crimes and shown in France on Canal +, and in the United Kingdom.

Series overview

The series is set in somber Los Angeles right after World War II and before the election of American president John F. Kennedy.

The episodes, although filmed in color, mimicked what had been done by Hollywood filmmakers during the film noir era of the 1940s and 1950s in terms of tone, look, and story content.

The television program was produced using top-notch directors, well-known hard-boiled fiction writers, experienced screenplay writers, inventive cinematographers (who recreated the film noir images), and actors. The art direction gave the series the ambiance and historical look required of a show devoted to noir set in Los Angeles.

A few known actors went behind the camera to direct a few episodes. They include: Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Kiefer Sutherland.

Each episode in season 1 begins with a cool and restrained jazz score as the sultry character Fay Friendly (Lynette Walden) explained to the audience what would develop in the episode. each episode in season 2 begins with a prologue voiced by Miguel Ferrer which explained to the audience the episode's events and who the main characters were. [1]

Her words are wistful, melancholic and foreshadowed the pain to come.

Neo-noir novelist James Ellroy said of the show: "It's a roll call of tormented souls confronting their monsters within; it's a picaresque look at Los Angeles back in the forties. It's the world of pulp on celluloid, pure translations that augment the stark power of great short fiction."


Guest stars

Among the many guest stars on the show were:

First Season (1993)

Second Season (1995)


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 6August 1, 1993 (1993-08-01)September 26, 1993 (1993-09-26)
2 9October 8, 1995 (1995-10-08)November 12, 1995 (1995-11-12)

Season 1 (1993)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Dead End for Delia"Phil JoanouScott FrankAugust 1, 1993 (1993-08-01)

Hard-boiled Detective Kelley (Gary Oldman) is called to investigate a murder and we discover his wife Delia (Gabrielle Anwar), a dance-hall hostess, has been murdered. We learn of Kelley's past involvement with Delia and what happened via a very convoluted point-of-view. The story ends in true noir fashion.
 Awards: Two CableACE Awards Gary Oldman, Outstanding Actor; Declan Quinn, Direction of Photography.

Original Source: William Campbell Gault (19101995), novelette of the same name published in Black Mask Magazine, November 1950
22"I'll Be Waiting"Tom HanksC. Gaby MitchellAugust 15, 1993 (1993-08-15)

Eve Cressy (Marg Helgenberger) is a gangster's moll who awaits the return of her lover from prison. She meets Tony Reseck (Bruno Kirby), the hotel dick, whose attempt to protect her, ends in violence.
 Featured Song: Patti Page, "Why Don't You Love Me."
 The episode was filmed at the Ambassador Hotel (also known as The Windermere, in the episode) in Los Angeles, where in 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated the evening he won the California presidential Democratic Party primary.

Original Source: Raymond Chandler (18881959), short story of the same name and published in The Saturday Evening Post , October 14, 1939
33"The Quiet Room"Steven SoderberghHoward A. RodmanAugust 29, 1993 (1993-08-29)

In the 1940s and 1950s a few members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had more interests than their slogan suggests: to protect and to serve. In this episode, sadistic Streeter (Joe Mantegna) and brutal Creighton (Bonnie Bedelia) are corrupt cops whose antics lead to a nasty and tragic end when a shakedown plan goes awry.
 Awards: One Emmy nomination Bonnie Bedalia, Outstanding Guest Actress/Drama.

Original Source: Jonathan Craig (pseudonym of Frank E. Smith [19191984]), short story of the same name and published in Manhunt Magazine, December 1953
44"The Frightening Frammis"Tom CruiseJon Robin Baitz & Howard A. RodmanSeptember 5, 1993 (1993-09-05)

When we meet the anti-hero, grifter Mitch Allison (Peter Gallagher), he is disheveled and walking by the side of the road. He tells in a flash back narrative how he stole $25,000 from his con-artist wife Bette (Nancy Travis) and jumped on a train hoping to double the money in a gambling scam. Later, he meets sultry Babe (Isabella Rossellini) and gets involved in more than he bargained for. The twists and turns never stop in this fast paced fatalistic and humorous tale.
 Awards: One CableACE Awards nomination Isabella Rossellini, Outstanding Actress.
 Note: This episode marks the only time Tom Cruise went behind the camera to direct.
 Note: The opening scene, when we see character Mitch Allison walking by the side of the road, is a homage to the 1945 classic film noir Detour (1945), directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.

Original Source: Jim Thompson (19061977), novelette of the same name and published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine , February 1957
55"Murder Obliquely"Alfonso CuarónAmanda SilverSeptember 19, 1993 (1993-09-19)

Annie (Laura Dern), in true noir fashion, fatalistically falls in love with a millionaire who the audience discovers is quite bewitched by another lover and is not afraid to show it. In a flashback narrative Annie explains how she met Dwight Billings (Alan Rickman) six weeks earlier and how she discovered Dwight's obsession with the "other woman." How far will Dwight go to win and keep the love of his adored Bernette vixen (Diane Lane)? What must Annie do to win Dwight's love?
 Awards: One CableACE Award Emmanuel Lubezki, Direction of Photography. One Emmy nomination, Laura Dern, Outstanding Guest Actress/Drama.
 Featured Song: Billie Holiday, "Yesterdays."

Original Source: Cornell Woolrich (19031968), novelette Violence, published in 1958 from Woolrich's short story Death Escapes the Eye published in Shadow Magazine April–May 1947
66"Since I Don't Have You"Jonathan Robert KaplanSteven KatzSeptember 26, 1993 (1993-09-26)

In this comic noir, based on a James Ellroy short-story, where Los Angeles historical characters are used. Fixer and bag-man Buzz Meeks (Gary Busey) is hired by two of his bosses: the multi-talented Howard Hughes (Tim Matheson) and the LA mafia gangster Mickey Cohen (James Woods). After investigating, Meeks discovers, oops, the woman whom they have both fallen crazy in love with. This humorous episode, narrated by "Buzz" in flashback, is peppered with many tales about the characters that made Los Angeles in the 1950s interesting.
 Awards: Two CableACE Awards nominations James Woods, Outstanding Actor; Gary Busey, Outstanding Actor.
 Notes: James Ellroy said of this episode,"I thought Gary Busey was a bad Buzz Meeks, James Woods an ineffectual Mickey Cohen and Tim Matheson was great as Howard Hughes."

Original Source: James Ellroy (1948 ), novelette of the same name published in the mystery and suspense anthology A Matter of Crime, edited by Bruccoli and Layman, and published in 1988; The story was later included in a noir anthology series Ellroy published named Hollywood Nocturne in 1994

Season 2 (1995)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
71"Love and Blood"Kiefer SutherlandFrank PuglieseOctober 8, 1995 (1995-10-08)

A boxer's wife (Mädchen Amick) is unhappy with her marriage and leaves her husband Matt Cordell (Kiefer Sutherland) for another man. Later she wants to give the marriage another chance. Yet, fate touches Cordell when he is framed for a murder.
 Awards: One CableACE Awards nomination, Frank Pugliese, Screenplay

Original source: Evan Hunter, short story published in Manhunt Magazine, July 1954, as "Return".
82"The Professional Man"Steven SoderberghHoward A. RodmanOctober 15, 1995 (1995-10-15)

Johnny Lamb (Brendan Fraser) has two jobs: he's an elevator operator by day and a hit man by night and he's very good at both jobs. His Boss (Peter Coyote) sends him on a job that makes Lamb confront his conscience; maybe for the first time. The episode has gay relationship overtones seldom touched in hard-boiled novels nor found in film noir.
 Awards: One CableACE Awards nomination Steven Soderbergh, Directing a Drama Series.

Original source: David Goodis (19171967), short story of the same name and published in Manhunt Magazine, October 1953
93"A Dime a Dance"Peter BogdanovichAllan ScottOctober 22, 1995 (1995-10-22)

A police detective (Eric Stoltz) investigates the untimely death of a nightclub dancer at a local hang-out but his investigation is called off by the police brass. The problem: the killer is still on the loose.

Original source: Cornell Woolrich (19031968), novelette The Dancing Detective and published in Black Mask Magazine, February 1938
104"Good Housekeeping"Michael LehmannScott McGeheeOctober 29, 1995 (1995-10-29)

In the noir world you never know how certain people you come in contact with can change your life forever. In this episode a housewife (Dana Delany) is transformed when she falls for a wise guy (Adam Baldwin).

Original source: Bruno Fischer (19081992), novella No Escape! and published in Detective Tales, January 1949
115"Tomorrow I Die"John DahlSteven KatzNovember 5, 1995 (1995-11-05)

In pure noir fashion, where fatalism plays its untimely hand, Hollywood actor Rich Thurber (Bill Pullman) gets off the bus and enters a bar to quench his thirst. The bar is abruptly taken over by tough bank thieves. The robbers mistake Rich for a local politician and take Thurber and Carol (Heather Graham), the daughter of Los Angeles' top cop, for a ride they won't soon forget. Look for a surprising and riveting end.
 Notes: Director John Dahl was a former drama student of Bill Pullman at Montana State University. Later, Dahl directed Pullman in the neo-noir The Last Seduction.

Original source: Mickey Spillane (19182006), short story I'll Die Tomorrow and published in Cavalier Magazine, March 1960
126"The Black Bargain"Keith GordonDon MacphersonNovember 19, 1995 (1995-11-19)

It's in the nature of noir stories to never know who your friends are. In this tale, a mobster (Miguel Ferrer) is hiding out in a hotel room and one by one his thug friends, like Augie (Peter Berg), abandon him.

Original source: Cornell Woolrich (19031968), story The Night of February 17, 1924, published in Justice Magazine, January 1956. In 1958 the story was included in a collection of stories written by Woolrich titled Hotel Room
137"Fly Paper"Tim HunterDonald E. WestlakeOctober 30, 1995 (1995-10-30)

A well known socialite (Kristin Minter), known to hang out at nightclubs and involved with gambler Babe McClure (Michael Rooker), is missing. The famed shamus, The Continental Op (Christopher Lloyd), is hired by the family to help find their daughter. In this story of lust, blackmail, murder, and double-crosses takes the Op to Los Angeles and takes place in 1929.
 Notes: According to Benet's Readers Encycylopedia of American Literature, 1991, edited by George Perkins, et al, "Many critics today feel that the first full fledged example of the hard-boiled method was Dashiell Hammett's story 'Fly Paper' . . ."

Original source: Dashiell Hammett (18941961), novelette of the same name and published in Black Mask Magazine, August 1929. Hammett wrote a series of The Continental Op stories
148"Red Wind"Agnieska HollandAlan TrustmanNovember 26, 1995 (1995-11-26)

In this episode, famed Los Angeles private dick Philip Marlowe (Danny Glover) investigates a series of murders in noir fashion.
 Awards: One Emmy Nomination Danny Glover, Outstanding Guest Actor.
 Notes: This was the only time that the Philip Marlowe character was played by an African-American.

Original source: Raymond Chandler (18881959), novella of the same name and published in Dime Detective, January 1938
159"Fearless"Jim McBrideRichard C. WesleyNovember 12, 1995 (1995-11-12)

In a tale that takes place in south-central Los Angeles, Fearless Jones (Bill Nunn) and Paris Minton (Giancarlo Esposito) become involved with a femme fatale nightclub jazz singer (Cynda Williams). They try to help out Deletha by planning to steal her singing contract from the nightclub manager. Not all go as the wily sleuths planned.
 Notes: Walter Mosley would write three novels featuring Fearless Jones and Paris Minton: Fearless Jones (2001), Fear Itself (2003) and Fear of the Dark (2006).

Original source: Walter Mosley (1952 ), novelette of the same name and published in the mystery and suspense anthology Spooks, Spies, and Private Eyes, edited by Paula L. Woods, 1995


Stories from the second season are reprinted in various volumes:


When it debuted, Fallen Angels received mixed to critical notices. In his review for the Associated Press , Scott Williams wrote, "We're asking a lot of TV to deliver entertainment about that stylish, moral abyss. Fallen Angels delivers. It lets us look over the edge and measure our souls against the darkness". [3] The Chicago Sun-Times gave the series two out of four stars and Ginny Holbert wrote, "Part of the problem is the series' arch, self-conscious obsession with style. Instead of a '90s interpretation of film noir, "Fallen Angels" offers contrived, full-color cliche noir, replete with cocked fedoras, plumes of curling smoke and harsh sunlight sliced by venetian blinds". [4] In his review for The New York Times , John J. O'Connor called it, "uneven but diverting, even when just hovering around film-school level". [5] In his review for the Houston Chronicle , Louis B. Parks wrote, "The big problem with film noir homages is they usually overdo the ingredients, with none of the subtlety of the great originals. Fallen Angels has a touch of that. But the directors and actors play straight, and the adaptations, taken from the real McCoy writers, are pretty good stuff". [6] In his review for the Washington Post , Tom Shales wrote, "Creating period pieces out of their period seems to be fairly easy now for the gifted artisans of Hollywood. Even by today's commonplace high standards, however, the look and feel of the six Fallen Angels films seem transportingly authentic and sensuous, stylized in ways that evoke the milieu without spoofing it. Occasionally, the films veer into the arch and ridiculous, but overall, they at least look darn good". [7] Newsweek magazine's David Gates wrote, "no show this summer will do a better job of whisking you away from the increasingly unacceptable '90s. These half hours are all too short". [8] Entertainment Weekly magazine's Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "One unintended result of all this happy, naughty cigarette-puffing, however, is that, at their weakest, these films look like the work of boys (and don't be fooled, this is a boys' fantasy production) dressed up in their dads' big suits". [9]

Home media

In the United States the first season was released in a two volume VHS set. The second season was released in Europe (DVD region 2) in 1999 and Australia (DVD region 4) under the title Perfect Crimes.

Other media

Grove Press released a companion book, Six Noir Tales Told for Television, (1993) with all the original stories and the screenplays from the first season. A soundtrack was also released.

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  1. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0576498/trivia?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu
  2. http://resumes.breakdownexpress.com/106631-1793694
  3. Williams, Scott (July 30, 1993). "Call It "Cable Noir"". Associated Press .
  4. Holbert, Ginny (July 30, 1993). "Showtime's Angels Loses on Style Points". Chicago Sun-Times .
  5. O'Connor, John J (July 30, 1993). "Noir for 90's Made From Spice Old Ingredients". The New York Times .
  6. Parks, Louis B (August 1, 1993). "Showtime's anthology series looks at the dark side". Houston Chronicle .
  7. Shales, Tom (August 1, 1993). "Angels With Dirty Faces". Washington Post .
  8. Gates, David (August 2, 1993). "Angels With Very Shady Faces". Newsweek .
  9. Schwarzbaum, Lisa (July 30, 1993). "Fallen Angels". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved July 11, 2011.