Monday, May 18, 2009

Fallen Angel

We watched Otto Preminger's Fallen Angel Saturday night and for the most part enjoyed it. I'd never liked it that much but for some reason this new viewing showed me why so many people like it even though, overall, I'm still doesn't quite work for me.

Dana Andrews as a bitter, angry failure is an interesting aspect of his melancholy persona. His lust for the gorgeous but deceptive Linda Darnell shows him at his most vulnerable. Despite all her obvious lies his obsession remains constant. Only after she's murdered does he begin to understand what she really was.

Alice Faye, Charles Coburn and Percy (Pa Kettle) Kilbride are uniformly excellent even though the script never gives them anything but stereotyped dialogue to work with. The actors were able to find meaning in their parts for themselves.

The whodunit works right up to the final revelation when it becomes clumsy and rushed and way too contrived.

The picture belongs almost entirely to Preminger and Andrews. Preminger gives us noirish sequences that occasionally rival the work of John Alton and Andrews gives us a grinding self-loathing commonr to many of the films that came out after the war.

The score by David Raksin is brilliant.


Tom Piccirilli said...

I agree that the ending feels a little tacked on, Ed, but I really love the energy of this one. Andrews is such a schemer all the way through it and Darnell proves to be even more of goldigger looking for big bucks and hot action. She's riveting in her performance and so alluring and easy on the eyes that you can understand why Andrews is willing to go to his extremes.Their scenes together have a real noir rawness to them, and I love the criminal shenanigans that go on along the way.

The shining blonde goddess who redeems his soul by film's end is a little silly but those goofball flourishes somehow seem to add to the film's textbook film noir niche. If you have the DVD definitely check out Eddie Muller's commentary. Sharp and insightful, as always.

Brian Drake said...

I have yet to see Fallen Angel but want to. I'm a huge fan of the radio show Alice Faye did with her husband, Phil Harris, and every now and then you'll hear one of them--usually Harris--crack a joke about Fallen Angel. They made the jokes enough for me to think that film was something she wasn't happy about being associated with.