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Angel Face (1953)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 11 February 1953 (USA)
Ambulance driver Frank Jessup is ensnared in the schemes of the sensuous but dangerous Diane Tremayne.

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writers:

Frank S. Nugent (screenplay) (as Frank Nugent), Oscar Millard (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Frank Jessup
Jean Simmons ... Diane Tremayne Jessup
Mona Freeman ... Mary Wilton
Herbert Marshall ... Mr. Charles Tremayne
Leon Ames ... Fred Barrett
Barbara O'Neil ... Mrs. Catherine Tremayne
Kenneth Tobey ... Bill Crompton
Raymond Greenleaf ... Arthur Vance
Griff Barnett ... The Judge
Robert Gist ... Miller
Morgan Farley ... Juror
Jim Backus ... District Attorney Judson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Tannen ... TV Broadcaster (scenes deleted)
Ralph Volkie Ralph Volkie ... Good Humor Man (scenes deleted)
Peggy Walker Peggy Walker ... TV Girl (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

When Mrs. Tremayne is mysteriously poisoned with gas, ambulance driver Frank Jessup meets her refined but sensuous stepdaughter Diane, who quickly pursues and infatuates him. Under Diane's seductive influence, Frank is soon the Tremayne chauffeur; but he begins to suspect danger under her surface sweetness. When he shows signs of pulling away, Diane schemes to get him in so deep he'll never get out. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The men she loved she destroyed! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

11 February 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Murder See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,039,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When asked to list his top ten favorite American sound films in 1964, Jean-Luc Godard listed this film as one of his picks. See more »

Goofs

After Diane insists on paying for dinner, Frank declines her offer, noting that he can afford it even on his salary. He takes out his wallet and places money on the table. Diane then later says, "At least let me pay for my half." He obliges. She takes out her purse and gives him some cash. Frank then picks up the money he had put down (which would have covered the full bill), puts her money (covering half the bill) down in its place, and gives her all of his money, which she puts in her purse. Nobody ends up paying for Frank's half and Diane ends up with more money than she started with. See more »

Quotes

Frank Jessup: [of Diane's 'evil' stepmother] ... If she's tryin' to kill you, why did she turn on the gas in her own room first?
Diane Tremayne: ...To make it look as though somebody else were guilty...
Frank Jessup: Is that what you did?
Diane Tremayne: Frank, are you accusing me?
Frank Jessup: I'm not accusing anybody. But if I were a cop, and not a very bright cop at that, I'd say that your story was as phony as a three dollar bill.
Diane Tremayne: ...How can you say that to me?
Frank Jessup: Oh, you mean after all we've been to each other?... Diane, look. I don't pretend to know what goes on ...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema: The Heist (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Ann
(foxtrot) (uncredited)
Music by Roy Webb and Gene Rose
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User Reviews

 
In Jean Simmons, Robert Mitchum meets a dangerously demented femme fatale
29 June 2003 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

In Otto Preminger's Angel Face, Robert Mitchum lays out his credo: `Never be the innocent bystander. That's the guy who always gets hurt.' He's being disingenuous; he's not quite so innocent as he pretends – but he still ends up getting hurt.

An emergency medical technician, Mitchum responds to a call at a mansion high up a hill. There a wealthy woman (Barbara O'Neil) has almost asphyxiated from the gas in her unlit bedroom fireplace. Was it a suicide bid, or something more sinister? Her husband (Herbert Marshall), a burnt-out novelist she supports, can't explain it. Neither can his daughter by a previous marriage (Jean Simmons).

Mitchum finds Simmons quite the dish, but she finds in him something more than a passing fancy. She jumps into her sleek sports car, follows the ambulance back down to the hospital and waylays Mitchum in a diner. Generous with his affections, Mitchum breaks a date with his steady girlfriend (Mona Freeman) in order to spend a perfectly `innocent' evening of dining and dancing with Simmons.

But his experience with fractures and coronaries hasn't equipped him to deal with a dangerously scrambled psyche. Simmons first invites Freeman to lunch so she can humiliate her by spilling all the details, cunningly tweaked up, of her `innocent' rendezvous with Mitchum. Then she arranges for him to take on the job of family chauffeur, installing him in a garage apartment (just like Joe Gillis in Sunset Blvd.). And she hits up her stepmother to lend Mitchum the money to start up his own business as a car mechanic. Telling himself that he's just looking out for Number One, Mitchum blithely lets her erase any boundaries between them.

Klaxons start bleating, however, when she pounds on his bedroom door in the middle of the night with a cockamamie story about O'Neil hovering over her bed and playing with gas again; the earlier incident, she claims, was just a smokescreen. She tells him, too, that the stepmother reneged on his loan – in order to get back at her. Mitchum's wariness enrages Simmons and redoubles her delusional obstinacy.

When her father and stepmother perish in a spectacular freak accident (their car plummeted in reverse down the steep ravine abutting the driveway), the heiress Simmons finds herself charged with murder. As does Mitchum – he had the expertise to sabotage the vehicle. Wily attorney Leon Ames (in a small but succulent part) sees the defendants' marriage as the path to acquittal. Which leaves Mitchum with a Hobson's choice – risking either the gas chamber or the psychotic wrath of a woman he never loved....

Though Preminger can deploy twists of plot with the best of them, he had a subtler knack of keeping his audience off-balance, never quite sure in which direction the story might develop. So for a while we share the perplexity of Mitchum, so laid back that he doesn't grasp that he's playing with a five-alarm blaze until it's too late; opportunistic but lazy, he's the perfect stooge.

Simmons may have been working within her limitations in her low-voltage, passive-aggressive performance, but she fits the character, who operates in a world inhabited only by herself. She's not a duplicitous vixen scheming to get what she wants; what she wants is the only reality she knows. Preminger recognizes this, and gives her one of the movie's quietest, most freighted scenes: During one of Mitchum's flights from her, she snoops as if sleepwalking through his rooms, finally curling up in his easy chair, his sport coat draped around her shoulders against the dawn chill. It's an eerie calm before the final storm.


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