FALLEN ANGELS was a crime television anthology that aired on the American network, Showtime, in the 1990's. Not all the episodes featured private eyes, or even detectives, per se, but who cares? It paired some great hard-boiled and noir short stories by some of the genre's masters (you know, hacks like Raymond Chandler, William Campbell Gault, Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson) with some pretty interesting choices for directors, including Peter Bogdanovich, Tom Cruise, Phil Joanou, Jim McBride, Steven Soderbergh and Tom Hanks, and some pretty spiffy casting, such as Gary Oldman, Laura Dern, Danny Glover, Bonnie Bedelia and James Woods. And the writers assigned to script the adaptations weren't too shabby either: they included Howard Rodman, Scott Frank and Donald Westlake.
It was a real treat; a handsomely-mounted production, full of style, with sharp period detail, and some truly fine acting, which garnered an Emmy nomination apiece for Bonnie Bedelia and Danny Glover (his was for playing a black Philip Marlowe, no less!). There was a jazzy, black-and-white intro featuring a sultry sax warbling around in the background, while some husky-voiced sexpot host (Fay Friendly? Sheesh!) with the proverbial legs up to here welcomed you to the show, but all that could be forgiven once the actual show began.
As far as I can figure, Showtime had very high hopes for the first season. It was heavily promoted, and there was also a nice companion book released, pairing the original short stories with the matching scripts, and a soundtrack album was even released. The shows from the first season were even eventually made available on two video cassettes (three episodes each).
Alas, the enthusiasm Showtime had for the project seemed to wane, when the expected ratings never materialized. Further episodes were produced, including adaptations of "Red Wind" by Chandler and "Flypaper" by Hammett, as well as stories by David Goodis, Cornell Woolrich and Mickey Spillane, and, over the next few years, they eventually aired. Unfortunately, there were no accompanying videos, books or soundtrack albums, at least in North America.
But the shows have since popped up in various places, including on British television in the winter of 1999, where they ran under the title Perfect Crimes, and were well enough received that some episodes were shown at the National Film Theatre in London, where they played it on the big screen at "the annual crime thing here," according to one British fan, and it was even released on DVD there in 2003. If there's anyone out there with more information on this show, particularly the second season, please feel free to contact me. Please.
Bedelia was nominated for a 1994 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her portrayal of Sally Creighton in this episode.
Glover was nominated for a 1996 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for his portrayal of Marlowe in this episode.
"Very well done (though the action, I think, was shifted from SF to LA). Screenplay by Donald Westlake, and the Op was played by Jim from Taxi!! The twist (not the wandering daughter, but the moll) was quite well played too, but maybe because Hammett gave her some good lines."
Fraser plays a bellboy/hitman here.
Intriguing tie-in collection of the first six episodes, featuring both the original short stories and the screenplays of their television adaptations. Preface by James Ellroy.
I get an awful lot of requests for videos and DVDs of this series, particularly the second season, but unless you live in the U.K., you're going to need some patience. The first season was released on two video cassettes way back in the early nineties, and more recently, some episodes from the second season have popped up on a three-DVD set under the title "Perfect Crimes," the name by which the second season ran in the UK. But, of course, British DVDs won't run on most North American players.
Three episodes from the first season: "Since I Don't Have You," "The Frightening Frammis," and "Murder Obliquely."
Three more episodes from the first season: "I'll Be Waiting," Dead End For Delia" and "The Quiet Room."
Available separately or as a three DVD set. Each disc carries three full-screen episodes, and the title sequences remains intact except for a tacky "Perfect Crimes" title card replacing the "Fallen Angels" caption. The only extra is a series trailer. Volume One includes "Red Wind," "Fly Paper" and "Professional Man;" Volume Two features "Tomorrow I Die," "Love And Blood" and "Fearless" and Volume Three completes the series with "'A Dime A Dance, "Good Housekeeping" and "The Black Bargain."
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