|Also known as||Perfect Crimes (in Europe)|
|Developed by||Steve Golin|
|Presented by||Lynette Walden (season 1)|
|Narrated by||Miguel Ferrer (season 2)|
|Opening theme||Elmer Bernstein|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||15 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Sydney Pollack|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production companies||Propaganda Films|
|Original release||August 1, 1993 –|
November 26, 1995
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 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.
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.
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."
Among the many guest stars on the show were:
First Season (1993)
- Gary Oldman, Gabrielle Anwar, Dan Hedaya, Wayne Knight and Meg Tilly
- Tom Hanks, Marg Helgenberger, Jon Polito and Bruno Kirby
- Joe Mantegna, Vinessa Shaw, Patrick Breen, J.E. Freeman, Kathy Kinney, Peter Gallagher and Bonnie Bedelia
- Peter Gallagher, Nancy Travis, John C. Reilly and Isabella Rossellini
- Laura Dern, Alan Rickman, Robin Bartlett, Michael Vartan and Diane Lane
- Gary Busey, Tim Matheson, Aimee Graham, Dick Miller, Elaine Hendrix, Ken Lerner and James Woods
Second Season (1995)
- Mädchen Amick, Johnathon Schaech, Danny Trejo, Edward Bunker and Kiefer Sutherland
- Brendan Fraser, Bruce Ramsay and Peter Coyote
- Eric Stoltz, Richard Portnow, Estelle Harris and Jennifer Grey
- Dana Delany, Marcia Gay Harden, William Petersen, Adam Baldwin and Benicio del Toro
- Bill Pullman, Dan Hedaya, Kim Coates, Jon Favreau, Dean Norris, Jack Nance, Bert Remsen, Grace Zabriskie and Heather Graham
- Miguel Ferrer, Grace Zabriskie, Lucinda Jenney, Peter Dobson and Peter Berg
- Michael Rooker, Laura San Giacomo, Peter Berg, Arnold Vosloo, Kristin Minter, Darren McGavin and Christopher Lloyd
- Danny Glover, Kelly Lynch, Ron Rifkin, Dan Hedaya, Miguel Sandoval and Valeria Golino
- Bill Nunn, Giancarlo Esposito, Cynda Williams and Roger Guenveur Smith
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||6||August 1, 1993||September 26, 1993|
|2||9||October 8, 1995||November 12, 1995|
Season 1 (1993)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||1||"Dead End for Delia"||Phil Joanou||Scott Frank||August 1, 1993|
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.
|2||2||"I'll Be Waiting"||Tom Hanks||C. Gaby Mitchell||August 15, 1993|
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, end in violence.
|3||3||"The Quiet Room"||Steven Soderbergh||Howard A. Rodman||August 29, 1993|
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.
|4||4||"The Frightening Frammis"||Tom Cruise||Jon Robin Baitz & Howard A. Rodman||September 5, 1993|
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.
|5||5||"Murder Obliquely"||Alfonso Cuarón||Amanda Silver||September 19, 1993|
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?
|6||6||"Since I Don't Have You"||Jonathan Robert Kaplan||Steven Katz||September 26, 1993|
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.
Season 2 (1995)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|7||1||"Love and Blood"||Kiefer Sutherland||Frank Pugliese||October 8, 1995|
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.
|8||2||"The Professional Man"||Steven Soderbergh||Howard A. Rodman||October 15, 1995|
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.
|9||3||"A Dime a Dance"||Peter Bogdanovich||Allan Scott||October 22, 1995|
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 (1903–1968), novelette The Dancing Detective and published in Black Mask Magazine, February 1938
|10||4||"Good Housekeeping"||Michael Lehmann||Scott McGehee||October 29, 1995|
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 (1908–1992), novella No Escape! and published in Detective Tales, January 1949
|11||5||"Tomorrow I Die"||John Dahl||Steven Katz||November 5, 1995|
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.
|12||6||"The Black Bargain"||Keith Gordon||Don Macpherson||November 19, 1995|
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 (1903–1968), 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
|13||7||"Fly Paper"||Tim Hunter||Donald E. Westlake||October 30, 1995|
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.
|14||8||"Red Wind"||Agnieska Holland||Alan Trustman||November 26, 1995|
In this episode, famed Los Angeles private dick Philip Marlowe (Danny Glover) investigates a series of murders in noir fashion.
|15||9||"Fearless"||Jim McBride||Richard C. Wesley||November 12, 1995|
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.
Stories from the second season are reprinted in various volumes:
- "Flypaper" in The Big Knockover, and several Hammett collections.
- "Dancing Detective" in the Ibooks edition of Rear Window.
- "Professional Man" published in New Crimes, edited by Maxim Jakabowski.
- "No Escape!" published in As Tough as they Come, edited by Will Oursler.
- "Tomorrow I Die" in A Century of Noir.
- "Red Wind," in several Chandler collections.
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". 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". 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". 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". 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". 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". 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".
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.
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.
- Williams, Scott (July 30, 1993). "Call It "Cable Noir"". Associated Press.
- Holbert, Ginny (July 30, 1993). "Showtime's Angels Loses on Style Points". Chicago Sun-Times.
- O'Connor, John J (July 30, 1993). "Noir for 90's Made From Spice Old Ingredients". The New York Times.
- Parks, Louis B (August 1, 1993). "Showtime's anthology series looks at the dark side". Houston Chronicle.
- Shales, Tom (August 1, 1993). "Angels With Dirty Faces". Washington Post.
- Gates, David (August 2, 1993). "Angels With Very Shady Faces". Newsweek.
- Schwarzbaum, Lisa (July 30, 1993). "Fallen Angels". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 11, 2011.