The Dark Angel (1935 film)

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The Dark Angel
Poster of the movie The Dark Angel.jpg
Directed by Sidney A. Franklin
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by Guy Bolton (play)
Lillian Hellman
Mordaunt Shairp
Starring Fredric March
Merle Oberon
Herbert Marshall
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Edited by Sherman Todd
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • September 8, 1935 (1935-09-08)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1 million [1]

The Dark Angel is a 1935 film which tells the story of three childhood friends, two male, one female. When the woman chooses one of the men to marry, the other, jealous, sends his rival off into a dangerous situation during wartime. The film stars Fredric March, Merle Oberon, and Herbert Marshall.


The movie was adapted by Lillian Hellman and Mordaunt Shairp from the play by Guy Bolton. It was directed by Sidney Franklin, produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and released by United Artists. A silent film version of the same play, also produced by Goldwyn, was released in 1925 and is now a lost film.

It won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, and was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Merle Oberon) and Best Sound, Recording (Thomas T. Moulton). [2] [3]


Kitty Vane, Alan Trent, and Gerald Shannon have been inseparable friends since childhood. Both Alan and Gerald are in love with Kitty, who in turn has been infatuated with Alan her entire life.

Gerald and Alan are drafted into World War I. They return home for ten days, during which time Alan proposes to Kitty and she joyously accepts. Despite his own love for Kitty, Gerald gives the couple his blessing. However, the newly engaged couple's happiness is cut short when Gerald and Alan are ordered back into service the very next day. Kitty and Alan search for somebody to marry them, but nobody is available. They decide they do not need to officially marry, and agree to spend the night together before Alan must return to the war.

Alan and Kitty book a room in an inn. Kitty's cousin Lawrence sees Alan taking champagne and flowers up the room and works out that Alan has a woman in his room, unaware that it is Kitty. The next day, Lawrence teases Alan about the previous night. Gerald misunderstands and believes Alan has cheated on Kitty. When Gerald confronts him, Alan does not reveal he in fact spent the evening with Kitty, so as to protect her reputation.

Gerald, furious for Kitty's sake, refuses to grant Alan leave so he can return home and marry Kitty properly. Instead, Gerald inadvertently pressures Alan to join a dangerous mission. Alan nobley volunteers.

Months later and Gerald returns home to Kitty. They both mourn the death of Alan, believed to be killed in an explosion. Together they realise Gerald's misunderstanding and conclude that they are both, in a way, to be blamed for Alan's death. Both consumed with grief, they end up growing closer and developing feelings for one another.

Meanwhile, it is revealed that Alan did not die. He lost his eyesight and was cared for in a German hospital, adopting the name of Roger Crane so that his family could not locate him. A doctor, George Barton, finds a photograph of Alan, Kitty and Gerald and realises that Alan has changed his name to escape his past. George allows "Roger" to leave.

Alan plans to return to Kitty, but has a change of mind at the last minute when he believes people will pity Kitty and that she will only care for him out of duty. He leaves town and stays in an inn. He becomes friendly with the innkeeper's children, Betty, Joe and Ginger. Inspired by his friendship with them, he begins to write a series of successful children's books, and is able to move into his own home with a private secretary.

George Barton visits Alan, still living as "Roger", and sees in the paper a photograph of Kitty and Gerald with the announcement that they are to be married. Recognising them as the couple from Alan's photograph and realising that Alan is still in love with Kitty, George contacts them. Gerald at first does not recognise the name Roger Crane, but works out who he really is. Gerald and Kitty go to visit Alan, who attempts to conceal his blindness from them. At first, they do not realise he cannot see, causing Kitty to believe Alan has distanced himself from her and no longer loves her. She wishes to part as friends and holds her hand out to him, but he cannot see and she believes he has rejected her. Gerald, however, realises the truth and encourages Kitty to go back into the house. Alan, hearing footsteps, believes his secretary is in the room and begins talking to her, causing Kitty to realise Alan is blind. She does not care and hurries over to Alan, where they finally profess their love for each other. Gerald leaves them to reunite.



It was the 12th most popular film at the British box office in 1935–36. [4]

Academy Awards 1936 The Dark Angel Best Actress Nominated [5]

Proposed Remake

In 1962 Ross Hunter announced he would remake the film with Rock Hudson in the lead from a script by John Lee Mahin. The action would be relocated to Japan in the post Korean War period. [6] Hunter says he paid $100,000 for the rights and only used the last ten minutes of the film. [7]

However the film was not made.

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  1. "FILM UNITS WILL EXPAND: Outlay for Year $25,000,000 Production Plans of United Artists and Reliance Pictures Disclosed". Los Angeles Times. Aug 21, 1935. p. A1.
  2. "The 8th Academy Awards (1936) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-07.
  3. "The Dark Angel". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  4. "The Film Business in the United States and Britain during the 1930s" by John Sedgwick and Michael Pokorny, The Economic History ReviewNew Series, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Feb., 2005), pp.97
  5. "1936 | | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on July 9, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  6. HOWARD THOMPSON (May 16, 1962). "FILMMAKER TALKS ABOUT 5 PROJECTS: Hunter, Here in Visit, Tells of MacDonald-Eddy Plan 'Tammy Takes Over' Is Next Joanne Woodward to Star British Film Opens Today 7 Vie for Golden Laurel Albert Lamorisse Visits". New York Times. p. 33.
  7. ARKADIN. "Film Clips". Sight and Sound. 32 (3 (Summer 1963)). London. p. 140.