Wednesday, February 20, 2013
244. Angel Face (1952)
Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By: Otto Preminger
Written By: Chester Erskine, Oscar Millard, Frank S. Nugent
Main Cast: Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, Mona Freeman, Herbert Marshall, Leon Ames
Click here to view the trailer
Back to work, but feeling pretty spry for having just done absolutely nothing for the span of one week. Last night, as my vacation came to a close, I took the time to take in one last movie before heading back to work - "Angel Face".
This time around the shadowy, film-noir block, Mitchum stars as Frank Jessup, an ex-race car driver and current ambulance driver who, after taking a call at the wealthy Tremayne residence, strikes up an interest in Diane Tremayne (Simmons), daughter to Charles Tremayne and step-daughter to Catherine Tremayne, the latter of which controls the checkbook. Frank already has a girl on the string, Mary (Freeman), but she isn't exciting enough for him and instead he takes the time to pursue Diane and even lands himself a new job because of it, when Diane offers him a position as the Tremayne chauffeur. Maybe I should back track a little bit here and explain that the reason Frank was called to the Tremayne residence, on the night he initially met Diane, was because someone had triggered the gas in Catherine Tremayne's room. It was either a huge accident or someone was trying to kill her. As the film continues, Frank starts to piece things together and makes no qualms about telling Diane his suspicions of her and her role on the "accident" with the gas. Frank tries over and over again to reunite with Mary, who represents a normal, content life, but can't break free of the exciting like that Diane represents. At about the halfway mark of the film, Charles and Catherine Tremayne are killed when their automobile goes in reverse over the side of a cliff, the reaction of an apparent car tampering. From there, Frank and Diane are hauled into court, where they stand trial for the murder of Charles Tremayne and Catherine Tremayne.
Well add "Angel Face" to the list of biggest BOOK disappointments, right up there with "The Hustler", because ever since seeing "Out of the Past", I'd been looking forward to another Robert Mitchum film and this one just didn't stack up in the slightest. My main problems with "Angel Face" were pretty much the same problems I had with "The Postman Always Rings Twice", where things just got waaaay too out of hand, which lead to too many contrivances. There was also the problem of Mitchum and Simmons' chemistry, of which, in my opinion, there was none. I just didn't buy these two as lovebirds and I was never fully sold on their relationship. They just didn't give off the sparks necessary to lead me to buy into the rest of the story. Once we got into the courtroom (and don't get me wrong, the courtroom scenes are some of the best in the film) the movie had blown into too big of a circus and I no longer cared about these characters.
It's a real shame too, because when the film opened up and I realized that Mitchum wasn't playing a private detective, an insurance investigator or an ex-cop, I was pretty excited. Here you had a noir that wasn't going to seem to fall into the standard stereotypes, introducing a regular Joe, an ambulance driver and it all seemed to set up so perfect. I've realized, after being burned by "Angel Face", that when it comes to film-noir and your truly, there's no middle ground - I either love 'em or I don't and I didn't love "Angel Face". Keep your eyes peeled for the courtroom scenes, where Leon Ames shines and the two car crashes, the first of which totally caught me off guard (I saw the ending coming out as it did and I really liked it), however, the rest of the film you can feed to the dogs.
RATING: 5.5/10 That was a pretty harsh write-up for a '5.5', but I was disappointed dammit!! I'll be checking out "The Night of the Hunter" later this season and hopefully Mitchum can win me back over.
MOVIES WATCHED: 618
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 383
Salt of the Earth (1954 - Herbert J. Biberman)
Silver Lode (1954 - Allan Dwan)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951 - Elia Kazan)
The Quiet Man (1952 - John Ford)
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