“Everywhere… in every town, in every street… we pass, unknowing, human souls made great by love and adversity.” Street Angel is not just the story of a gutter waif (Janet Gaynor) and an itinerant painter (Charles Farrell) who fall in love and must persevere against all the obstacles the world throws at them. Instead, Borzage elevates them to the level of gods. The streets they walk are not those of Naples, but of a mythological space akin to Mount Olympus. Everything, and everybody, is the absolute embodiment of an ideal: life is hardship, love is divine, fate is always against us, and people are either saints or devils. Or, as the title suggests, angels—fallen from the heavens, and left to battle here on earth.
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.