Film Review: Fallen Angel (1945)

Release Date: October 26th, 1945
Directed by: Otto Preminger
Written by: Harry Kleiner, Marty Holland
Music by: David Raksin
Cast: Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Charles Bickford, Anne Revere, Bruce Cabot, John Carradine, Percy Kilbride

20th Century Fox, 98 Minutes

Review:

“Then love alone can make the fallen angel rise. For only two together can enter Paradise.” – June Mills, quoting a book

Fallen Angel is another film-noir that re-teams Dana Andrews with director Otto Preminger. While it isn’t quite the picture that Laura was, it is still a much better than decent noir outing that greatly benefits from the inclusion of Linda Darnell and Alice Faye. John Carradine even makes an appearance as a famous fortune teller.

The plot of this one is pretty interesting but not too different from a typical noir scenario, except it does have a fairly happy ending.

Dana Andrews plays Eric Stanton, a drifter with bad luck that gets stranded in Walton, CA because he doesn’t have the bus fare to make it all the way to San Francisco. In a diner in Walton, Stanton falls in love with the waitress Stella (Darnell), as does every man that sees her. Trying to win her over and marry her, as the movie rolls on, Stanton works his cunning and attracts the wealthy June (Faye). He leads June to believe that he loves her and the two are quickly married. Stanton plans on ending the marriage and taking half of her fortune, so that he can impress and marry Stella. Of course, as these things go, there are twists and turns and some surprises.

Otto Preminger got the very best out of his actors, even if he was sometimes cruel to Linda Darnell. Somehow, his cruelty got great performances out of her and even though she legitimately feared the man, the two worked together on several pictures for the sake of their art and creating magic together. I can imagine that it was probably very similar to how Stanley Kubrick would work Shelley Duvall into a manic frenzy in order to get real reactions out of her in The Shining.

Fallen Angel feels a bit confined, at times, with tight and cozy sets but it adds to the film tonally. Even when the characters are outside, like the scenes with the beach in the background, things are always dreary and somber. As the picture moves on, the tale gets very dark but it is a noir where there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel and the despicable main character actually finds his right place in the world and becomes somewhat heroic. The ending feels as if the tight confining grip has now released itself over these characters and the world they were living in.

Preminger did a fine job managing the narrative and the style of the picture, which greatly enhanced the film as a whole and worked in a truly symbiotic way.

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