Fallen Angel

Venetian blinds out of control: Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell in Fallen Angel (dir. Otto Preminger, 1945).

Preminger's follow-up to Laura has all the ingredients of classic noir, including gorgeous cinematography, a powerful soundtrack, and some jaw-dropping circumventions of the Breen Censorship Office's rigid code (a spent-looking couple lying in the same bed, for example, a prolonged steamy kiss, and a clear instance of butt-grabbing). Dana Andrews is great as the unscrupulous drifter who comes up with a plan to marry an old maid (Alice Faye) and bilk her out of her inheritance so he can win over the true object of his desires, the hot 'n' slutty waitress Stella (Linda Darnell). There are excellent supporting performances from Anne Revere, Charles Bickford, John Carradine, Olin Holland, Percy Kilbride (Pa Kettle), Bruce Cabot (of King Kong fame), and an uncredited Dorothy Adams.

HOT, indeed.

The only thing, to my mind, that keeps this picture from attaining true top-of-the-line classic noir status is the plot resolution, which requires us to buy a substantial change of sentiments in the main character without much motivation, and--here I will try not to reveal anything specific--misses an opportunity for a much more compelling whodunnit payoff, which would also provide an antidote to the first problem.

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