A slick con man arrives in a small town looking to make some money, but soon gets more than he bargained for.A slick con man arrives in a small town looking to make some money, but soon gets more than he bargained for.A slick con man arrives in a small town looking to make some money, but soon gets more than he bargained for.
FALLEN ANGEL (Otto Preminger, 1945) ***
20th Century Fox's underrated follow-up to LAURA (1944) reteamed director Preminger and leading man Dana Andrews with several of the same crew members (chief among them cinematographer Joseph LaShelle and composer David Raksin). Curiously chosen by the studio's biggest musical star Alice Faye for her 'comeback' role as a dramatic actress (and she is fine in it), unfortunately for her, it collided with Linda Darnell's own stunning "femme fatale" revamp who, even though bumped off halfway through, effortlessly walks away with the film; needless to say, Faye wouldn't make another picture for the next 17 years! Andrews who would have turned 100 on January 1st of this year had he lived and thus I'll be watching several of his movies throughout this month plays the anti-hero: a penniless cad who marries Faye (against elder sister Anne Revere's advice) for her inheritance money but lusts after Darnell as do, understandably, most of the male cast: married detective Charles Bickford (his paradoxical character is a fascinating creation), jukebox salesman Bruce Cabot and Darnell's own employer Percy Kilbride; favorite character actor John Carradine, made up to look like some forbidding Scandinavian pastor, has an amusing bit as a mentalist Andrews hitches up with early on. The routine plot is transformed by Preminger's fluid direction which envelops that formidable cast in expert chiaroscuro lighting. Andrews is eventually reformed through Faye's unconditional love for him but the seedy ambiance of that first half permeates the whole film.
- Jan 10, 2009
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