The White Angel (1936)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature]  |   Release Date - Jun 25, 1936 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Whatever its other faults, one thing can be said about The White Angel: For a Hollywood biopic, a genre notorious for the manner in which it plays fast and loose with the truth, Angel does a very decent job of sticking to the facts. Oh, there are certainly inaccuracies, as well as changes made to help make history into drama; but for the most part, Angel presents Florence Nightingale's life in tact. Unfortunately, it also has even more reverence for its central character than it does for the facts, with the result that Nightingale emerges as a flat character given to making speeches of would-be great importance, rather than as a human being with flaws who speaks just as any human being would. To make matters worse, most of the supporting cast is reduced to clich├ęs, with the result that there's very little in Angel that moves the viewer, or even keeps him particularly interested, despite the drama that is inherent in the story. Kay Francis tries hard as Nightingale, but she is not ideal casting in the first place and, while her efforts are admirable, she doesn't rise above the shortcomings of the screenplay. William Dieterle's direction is professional but perfunctory.