Briefly breaking away from her high-gloss modern soap operas, Kay Francis stars as Florence Nightingale in this reverent Warner Bros. biopic. The screenplay concentrates on Nightingale's humanitarian activities during the Crimean War of 1854-55. Defiant in the face of military bureaucracy and the male hierarchy, she organizes a volunteer group of nurses to tend to the military wounded, and also works tirelessly to update and improve the primitive, almost barbaric medical conditions of the Victorian Era. Of the supporting characters, only Ian Hunter as Fuller evinces any sort of humanity; the rest, especially Montague Love, are grim-visaged stereotypes. Critics were unkind to Kay Francis' performance in White Angel, with the New York Times speaking for many by suggesting that Francis was too overwhelmed by the historical importance of her character to deliver a believable performance. By today's standards, however, Francis is most effective despite her miscasting, delivering her difficult speeches with quiet and assured eloquence.
by Hal Erickson synopsis