A newspaper reporter (Rock Hudson) addicted to booze tails a pair of vagabond stunt flyers (Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone) addicted to cheating death. The love triangle that ensues plays out against the sordid backdrop of Depression-era New Orleans during Mardi Gras, depicted by Sirk as a modern-day Sodom where death seems to haunt every corner. While the director’s use of Technicolor is justly lauded, The Tarnished Angels finds Sirk harnessing the full expressive potential of black and white, with each frame etched in dramatic chiaroscuro. It also features one of Hudson’s best performances; as the tormented journalist drawn into his subjects’ doomy lives, he conveys a tightly wound intensity that explodes when he drinks.
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