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Fallen Angel is a 1945 black-and-white film noir directed by Otto Preminger, with cinematography by Joseph LaShelle, who also worked with Preminger on the film Laura a year before. The film features Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Charles Bickford, among others. The film is famous for being the last film Faye made as a major Hollywood superstar. Disappointed at how studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck cut her role out of the picture, Faye left the studio that day and did not make another film until 1962's State Fair .

Plot

The tale of Eric Stanton – a down-on-his-luck former New Yorkmarker press agent who becomes a drifter and con man begins with a car speeding down the road. Stanton (Dana Andrews) gets pulled off the bus because he doesn't have the $2.25 necessary to get to San Franciscomarker (he’s about 150 miles short of the city). He lands in the small hamlet of Walton and walks over to Pop's Eats and runs into a group of men who are discussing the disappearance of waitress Stella. Seemingly, every man in town is sexually obsessed with her.
Iconic image in film as Stanton waits outside Pop's Eats.
After Stella (Linda Darnell) returns to the diner, Stanton cons his way into an empty hotel room to sleep. It's Professor Madley (John Carradine) and his assistant's room, and Stanton talks his way into helping them get their show publicized. Madley is a traveling soothsayer grifter. When Stanton hooks up with Madley and his "spook act," he meets Clara (Anne Revere) and June Mills (Alice Faye) two suckers Madley needs to attend his performance. He talks them into attending the performance.

The next day Madley puts on a very entertaining séance to a well attended crowd by bringing up the finances of the late Abraham Mills – Clara and June's father. The two leave the séance quite upset.

Meanwhile, Stanton falls in love with Stella. She's as bad as Stanton. She likes to take money from the diner's cash register. After a quick romance, Stanton decides he wants her. She refuses to marry him because of his poor financial situation. Desperate for money, Eric marries the wealthy, quite attractive, local spinster June Mills, who he plans to divorce as soon as he can. Clara sees through the scheme but is unable to stop the marriage. Stanton can't stay away from Stella even on his wedding night. Instead of sleeping with his wife, he visits Stella.

The next day Stella turns up dead.

Mark Judd (Charles Bickford), a hard-bitten ex-cop New York cop, is asked to investigate the murder. His investigation first leads to one of Stella's boyfriends and then, after a police-style beating of the suspect, Stanton is the next target. Judd suspects everyone who knew her.

Stanton, afraid because he was one of the last men to see Stella alive, flees to a seedy hotel room in San Francisco with his wife June at his side. He tells her all about his life and his bad betting with the $8000 he made from the sale of his public relations business. June tells Stanton that she loves him and that her money is his money. The next day June is detained in the streets and taken in for questioning. Stanton returns to Walton to confront Judd.

Cast



Background

The source of the film was the Marty Holland novel of the same name. She also wrote another story that was adapted for the film noir screen: The File on Thelma Jordon (1949). According to the British Film Institute, "Hardly anything is known about Marty Holland except that, he, was a she called Mary, who wrote two or three best selling pulp novels and then in 1949 -- to all intents and purposes -- vanished, there being no further record of her at all."

Filming location

The filming locations were in Orange, Californiamarker.

Critical reaction

Cover to the DVD release
Bosley Crowther, film critic at The New York Times, liked the acting in the film but was disappointed by the story. He wrote, "As the frustrated adventurer, Dana Andrews adds another excellent tight-lipped portrait of a growing gallery. Linda Darnell is beautiful and perfectly cast as the sultry and single-minded siren, while Miss Faye, whose lines often border on the banal, shoulders her first straight, dramatic burden, gracefully. Charles Bickford, as a dishonorably discharged cop, Anne Revere, as Miss Faye's spinster sister, and Percy Kilbride, as the lovesick proprietor of the diner in which Miss Darnell works, are outstanding among the supporting players. But for all of its acting wealth, Fallen Angel falls short of being a top flight whodunit."

Critic Tim Knight, at Reel.com, notes that if the viewers can forget the "headlong dive into preposterousness, it's still a lot of fun". His review adds, "... the movie does have much to recommend, from Joseph La Shelle's atmospheric, black-and-white cinematography to Preminger's taut direction to the juicy, hard-boiled dialogue. Veteran character actors Charles Bickford, John Carradine and Percy Kilbride (of Ma and Pa Kettle) fame lend strong support to the sizzling twosome of Andrews and Darnell, who would make only one more film together, when they were both past their prime: 1957's Zero Hour!, a forgotten grade-Z thriller."

Critic Fernando F. Croce wrote of the film, "Fallen Angel, the director's follow-up to his 1944 classic, is often predictably looked down as a lesser genre venture, yet its subtle analysis of shadowy tropes proves both a continuation and a deepening of Preminger's use of moral ambiguity as a tool of human insight...Preminger's refusal to draw easy conclusions—his pragmatic curiosity for people—is reflected in his remarkable visual fluidity, the surveying camera constantly moving, shifting dueling points-of-view in order to give them equal weight. Fallen Angel may not satisfy genre fans who like their noir with fewer gray zones, but the director's take on obsession remains no less fascinating for trading suspense for multilayered lucidity."

See also



References

  1. .
  2. Channel 4. Review, 2004. Last accessed: January 29, 2008
  3. Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, February 7, 1946. Last accessed: January 29, 2008.
  4. Knight, Tim. Reel.com. film/DVD review, 2007. Last accessed: December 29, 2007.
  5. Croce, Fernando F. Slant magazine, film review, 2006. Last accessed: January 29, 2008.


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