Angel Face (Preminger, 1952)

Robert Mitchum’s ambulance driver Frank Jessup immediately knows why Jean Simmons’ young Diane Tremayne wants his care and affection, making Otto Preminger’s Angel Face an intriguing Noir from the start. Unlike many other Noir’s, which show their working class hero getting duped by the sexuality of a wealthy socialite for criminal purposes, Preminger gives us these two complex characters who knowingly commit to the dangers involved. The director highlights Frank’s inability to permanently dissuade his femme fatale and Diane’s childish outlook on life, which comes crashing down after her brutal intentions are realized. Angel Face is a suprising and unassuming mood piece, cleverly twisting stylistic conventions time and again. A few examples; Simmons’ has brown hair while Mitchum’s homely love interest is the blond, while the “evil” stepmother Diane hates really isn’t that bad in the first place, creating a series of opposite “doubles” which transcend Noirish norms. Mitchum’s keenness toward the dangerous situation pushes Angel Face into a realm of psychological angst more forlorn and ambitious than many films of the like, making him a more reflexive Noir hero and an even stranger tragedy in the end.


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