Monday, January 30, 2012

1987-Angel Heart

                                                               Click for Angel Heart

Over the years I've taken to compiling complete soundtracks to films I love, including songs that, most likely for licensing reasons, appeared in the movie but were not included on the official soundtrack and attempting to place the songs in chronological order of how they appeared in the film. 1987's Angel Heart, directed by Alan Parker, is a firm favorite of mine that despite its occasional silliness (even Parker concedes sheepishly on the DVD's commentary track that the bit with the glowing eyes at the end was too much) is still one of the better films of the 1980's and one which succeeds in combining the hardboiled and horror genres -a rarity that really works here and makes you wonder why it hasn't been done more.

The film features strong performances by Robert DeNiro, Charlotte Rampling, Lisa Bonet (limited but believably natural and beautiful) and most especially the star of the film, Mickey Rourke. This is arguably Rourke's best performance, a great actor, whose performances in most of his films considerably outdistance the material he's given.  In Angel Heart he gets another chance to shine and it's unquestionably Rourke's spot on, lived in and ultimately doomed portrayal of PI Harry Angel, worthy of a David Goodis novel, that holds the center of the film and makes it all work. I certainly can't imagine any other actor working at the time pulling it off.

Angel Heart is based on the 1978 novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, a good read, currently out of print, but worth seeking out.  One crucial change that Parker made in scripting the novel was moving the setting halfway through the story, from New York to New Orleans, the novel takes place soley in New York.  This move to N.O. allows Parker to really lay on a smokey Southern noir atmosphere; fog, rain, blues clubs, fat sweaty cops, bayous, voodoo, gumbo, chickens etc.  This film, shot on location in New Orleans by DP Michael Seresin, is extremely beautiful to look at. Director Parker recruited Trevor Jones to compose the evocative and haunting score (with saxophone courtesy of Courtney Pine), which adds immeasurably to the mood and overall impact of the movie, effectively updating Noir for the 1980's without sacrificing any of its essentials.

In this more complete version of the soundtrack I've added to the original score all of the additional songs featured in the film that I could hunt down, including songs by LaVern Baker, Glen Gray, John Lee Hooker and Dr. John. The majority of the music featured in the film will be found here. Hope you enjoy it, and for more great 1980's noir hybrids, this time blended with Sci-Fi, watch the original theatrical cut of Blade Runner (the voice over being a crucial Film Noir device) that finally made its way to DVD in 2007.

Trailer which includes scenes that didn't make the final cut