Angel Face – Otto Preminger – 1952

Angel Face CoverOriginal title: Angel Face
Rating: 4 Stars
Year: 1952
Directors: Otto Preminger
Duration: 91 min.
Genre: Film Noir, Crime

Angel Face

Ahh how much I adore this film. A little piece on it is well overdue. One of the main reasons that I like Angel Face so much is because it is a film that in my opinion it has a near perfect femme fatale in Jean Simmons. She is beautiful, dangerous, alluring, poisonous, sweet, nice, sensual and has the face of an angel. She operates under a veil of innocence, but her heart was forged in the darkest depths and out the noirest noir. Seemingly without any effort she traps her prey – poor Robert Mitchum – but she does it with such style that I almost wish I were in his shoes. Even when he’s treated like a chump and sucked into a nightmare, does he get the heck out of there? No, because he’s completely under Simmons’ spell so he won’t leave. He can’t leave. He knows he should but he just can’t get himself to do it. That is the signature of a grand femme fatale. But is she really that bad, or is she too a victim of her insane family which seems to have murderous tendencies?

Angel Face

That latter bit is how Diane Tremayne (Simmons 💓) meets Frank Jessup (Mitchum) for the first time. What seems like an attempted murder on Diane’s mother has Jessup’s ambulance rush to the Tremayne manor. This is where she first sees him and decides that he is to be hers. But the fish is reeled in a short while later when Diane ‘accidentally’ meets him in a diner. She gets him to take her to a nightclub to have some fun, while instead Frank should’ve gone home to his girl. But that would be using your head – applying common sense. Can’t have any of that in a film noir can we. Instead afterwards Diane confronts Frank’s girl with their nightly escapades. How very evil. Not soon after Frank is employed as the Tremayne’s chauffeur. Mhmm. By the time actual bodies start to drop Frank is in way over his head.

So this film has it all then. The poor sob getting into lots of trouble because of a girl, attempted murder, murder, plotting, scheming, darkness and more. It’s hard to think that this film could easily not have been made at all. I remember reading somewhere that director Otto Preminger didn’t want to make Angel Face at all, but he got persuaded to do it anyway. Much the same it could have easily been done without Jean Simmons, but they finished filming in about three weeks, just before her contract expired. And am I glad it got made. The very un-femme-fatale-ish Simmons is fantastic, and I always kind of like Robert Mitchum films. Angel Face isn’t the most known film noir out there, but I’d put it in my top 10 in a heartbeat. Eddie Muller, president of the Film Noir Foundation, once described film noir as “suffering with style” and Angel Face offers exactly that, and more.

Angel Face

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