“Everything in life is an illusion.”
A once-famous director (Hugo Haas) moves to a condemned housing project and decides to cast his quibbling neighbors in a documentary-style movie — without using film.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Hugo Haas Films
- Marie Windsor Films
- Movie Directors
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary begins his review of Paradise Alley by commenting on director Hugo Haas’s unique claim-to-fame as a “genuine auteur who starred in, directed, produced, and wrote a string of independently made melodramas” with “unorthodox themes” (such as multiple personalities, miscegenation, and death row), long before “indie films” became a burgeoning cottage industry. Indeed, Paradise Alley — Haas’s “crowning achievement and most personal film” — is a fitting swan song to his endearing oeuvre of unconventional films. It may be “hokey” and poorly acted (by former Miss Universe Carol Morris and others), but it’s also “heartfelt and harmless and offbeat”. Haas’s self-referential character — a humble, mysterious man who goes by the name “Mr. Agnus”, but is actually “Al von Stollberg”, a once world-famous director — wants nothing more than to help end both “the despair in [his poverty-stricken] neighborhood and the hostility that everyone feels for each other”. Indeed, Agnus could be seen as a “fairy godfather” of sorts in this modern-day fairytale, which has a most satisfying happy ending. In addition to the cast of mostly amateurs, watch for several famous faces — including Margaret Hamilton (typecast as a snippy bitch), Billy Gilbert (as her nemesis), Marie Windsor, and silent film comedian Chester Comedian (who shows off his impressive collection of movie memorabilia to Agnus).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Hugo Haas as “Mr. Agnus”
- A truly heartwarming story
Yes, as Haas’s moving swan song.