Thursday, 26 June 2014

Angel Face [1953]

Preminger’s superb romantic-noir Angel Face provided a dark and discomfiting peek into Freudian jealousy, obsession and sexual insecurity. And Jean Simmon’s Diane Tremayne ought to rank amongst the most self-serving, duplicitous, alluring and brilliantly etched femme fatales along the likes of such iconic characters as Ava Gardner’s Kitty Collins in The Killers, Jane Greer’s Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past, Barbara Stanwyck’s Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity and Mary Astor’s Brigid O’Shaughnessy in Maltese Falcon – so much so that she even managed to outshine a top-notch Robert Mitchum. Frank Jessup (Mitchum) is a two-bit ambulance driver in a relationship with the loving Mary (Mona Freeman); an untimely halt at the house of the Tremaynes for a seemingly regular case of gas poisoning, however, kick-starts his journey downhill. He makes the acquaintance of Diane, a sad, beautiful and lonely 19-year old girl whose alluring looks mask a dangerous and sociopathic core. She plans to get rid of her wealthy stepmother (Barbara O’Neil), in order to be the sole companion of her novelist father (Herbert Marshall), and teasingly engages the dour-faced and world-weary Frank to that effect – and boy does he make him dance to her tunes even when he realizes he’s being taken for a chump! Preminger marvelously alternated quieter moments with harsh and brutal sequences, and laced the proceedings with cynical edge and fatalism. And in Diane we have a thoroughly inscrutable and unpredictable damsel who just doesn’t have a moral compass or conscience. The fine B/W photography and terrific organ-based score formed the perfect foil to the film’s moodiness and bleak atmosphere.

Director: Otto Preminger
Genre: Film Noir/Crime Drama/Psychological Drama/Romantic Noir
Language: English
Country: US

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