Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Angel Face (1952)

In this Mitchum looks bigger than ever. Up against the young Jean Simmons he’s a giant, but we’ve learned from film noir that powerful masculinity is no match for a scheming woman, or in this case, a nineteen-year-old girl. She’s so young, it almost appears illegal. Simmons is outstanding as Diane Tremayne, the father-fixated femme fatale with a radical fringe and eyes made for luring suckers like Frank Jessup into her tender trap. And whilst noir traditionally offers a world of pain played out in sharp contrast of shadow and light, here Diane’s eyes exert all the force of black holes into which Frank cannot help but fall. From the minute he hears her playing the piano he’s doomed, failing to get the hint when she’s returns his slap with equal force. But Frank’s no angel, ditching a dinner date with his steady girl for this little minx once he finds out that she’s on his trail. So the game begins; the classic acts of manipulation and man management by the angel-faced girl with a big grudge against her stepmother. Otto Preminger’s direction is faultless, and the story moves at great pace, almost as fast as Diane’s high-powered car. Frank falls for that too, being an ex-racing driver. No time is wasted, to the point where the rapid succession of some events come as a surprise at times. It’s as if Preminger is trying to emulate the tempo of the best hardboiled books. Godard rated this film very highly, and it’s easy to see why.


  1. Good one. Now, have you seen 'Ride The Pink Horse'? I'm reading the Dorothy B. Hughes novel at the moment and it reads extraordinarily modern for 1946. The film version doesn't seem to be available at all, sadly, though I have read reviews that it is an excellent Noir.

  2. No, haven't seen or heard of that. The novel sounds interesting, perhaps I'll add it to the TBR pile.


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