Sunday 17 March 2024

Movie Review: Fallen Angel (1945)

Genre: Noir Crime Romance Drama  
Director: Otto Preminger  
Starring: Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Alice Faye, Anne Revere, Charles Bickford, John Carradine  
Running Time: 97 minutes  

Synopsis: In California, penniless drifter Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) is thrown off the bus in the small town of Walton. At the local cheap diner, he finds server Stella (Linda Darnell) alluring, but she is tired of men who don't commit and demands marriage and a house. Eric makes some money promoting a show for traveling spirit medium Professor Madley (John Carradine), and in the process meets unmarried wealthy sisters Clara and June Mills (Anne Revere and Alice Faye). To secure the funds needed to satisfy Stella, Eric plots to separate June from her money through seduction, but unexpected twists await. 

What Works Well: Director Otto Preminger and star Dana Andrews re-team after the success of Laura and land within a seedy milieu of drifters, hucksters, and desperates. Eric Stanton fits right in, and Andrews nails the dubious protagonist as a survivor susceptible to troubled charms. The second half transitions into a tough whodunnit with unconventional interrogation tactics, Stanton's convoluted plotting sucking him into a murder case with ex-New York cop Judd (Charles Bickford), love rival Atkins (Bruce Cabot), and even barkeep Pop (Percy Kilbride). Linda Darnell as Stella carries the weight of wasted years behind her eyes, a contrast with Alice Faye's June, whose so-far sheltered existence is an easy target.

What Does Not Work As Well: On the seemingly perpetually dark streets of Walton, most characters are singularly obsessed with self-interest, depriving the drama of a sympathetic core.

Conclusion: This town welcomes the scammers, the scammed, and the soon-to-be-scammed.

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