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Con Artistry: <i>Angels Over Broadway</i> (1940)

Charles Engle (John Qualen)'s employer looms over him, enveloped in Expressionist shadow, dominating the screen via his eerily opaque glasses and large body, even if he's ostensibly in the background of the frame. He accuses Charles of embezzling $3000 from the company and talks of Charles' failed marriage, his tone a mix of anger and mournfulness, at a friendship betrayed, at a cuckolding of Charles that the embezzlement gives an air of schadenfreude. Charles denies nothing-- all the accusations are true--and stumbles out into a rainy New York night, to complete the suicide he's announced in a note in his overcoat pocket.

But he doesn't jump in the river; instead, a bit dazed, he stumbles into something far deadlier-- a ritzy nightspot with the slightly on-the-nose name of the Pigeon Club. His ennui and fatalism cause him to overtip everyone, drawing the eye of con man Bill (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), who sees him as his next mark. Meanwhile, failed play…

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