Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Cinemascope

"Fallen Angel" (1945)

Recommended Posts

This is probably a pretty underrated noir with which Otto Preminger followed up his famous Laura. This time, the stars are Dana Andrews, Alice Faye and LInda Darnell. The movie also features one of the greatest opening credits sequences of any noir! :D

 

The DVD is great and comes with an Eddie Muller & Susan Andrews (Dana's daughter) audio commentary. B-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder how Herr Otto got away with that scene where Dana Andrews put his hand on Linda's rear ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll have to rent the dvd just to hear that commentary. It's not one of my favorites, except for Linda's scenes---she was smashing. However, it's well-made and is a much more complex character for Andrews. He was surprisingly adept at either straightforward types or at playing decidedly ambiguous characters, like this one---which is probably one of his least likable.

 

Miss G

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my favorites from my all-time favorite - Linda Darnell. Hope other Preminger-directed movies with Linda, namely Centennial Summer, Forever Amber, and The 13th Letter, of which only the last is noirish, are soon released on DVD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is one I am planning on seeing once I get thru the Wanrer Noir Volumes - just a handful to get through still...from each Volume....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This film is interesting in that it was Alice Faye's first noir (and last film for 18 years). I've heard that the script was altered to allow more screen time for Linda Darnell, diminishing the time allowed the star, Faye. This may or may not have affected the film as a whole, but it did cause Faye to pack up and drive away from 20th Century Fox with little regret Her next film was State Fair in 1963 in which she played the mother of grown kids.

I think the small-town atmosphere was captured very well, and the diner, with that song playing and Darnell flirting with Andrews and Bickford, was a knockout...it's worth a look. Not great, but fascinating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zanuck tried to get Faye to make more movies after Fallen Angel. Fallen Angel was the result of her not wanting do any more musicals. Ironically, prior to FA, she was offered the part played by Jeanne Crain in the 1945 version of State Fair.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

She was wise to decline the State Fair offer. She was too old for the part., and it was a supporting role. She took the proper role in State Fair #2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, the Margie Frake role, played by Jeanne Crain, was the main one. , I don't think they intended her to play the Vivian Blaine role, tho she had her share of Faye's hand-me-downs. Although with more than one storyline, no one actually dominated the picture, but no less so than in Fallen Angel (but we know what happened there). As for being too old, she might have been, but the same could be said for her part in FA, I've read that originally, either Anne Baxter or Jeanne Crain were considered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fallenangel.JPG

 

"We were born to tread the Earth as angels

To seek out Heaven this side of the sky

But they who rest alone just stumble in the dark

And fall from grace.

 

Then love alone can make the fallen angel rise

For only two together

Can enter paradise." ~An unattributed poem quoted by Alice Faye in Fallen Angel (1945)

 

I finally caught up with this noir and was intrigued enough to try to figure out which character this poem is referring to in this movie: Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Alice Faye or possibly even Charles Bickford?

 

We first encounter Dana Andrews' character, Eric Stanton, in Fallen Angel (1945) when he's thrown off a bus to San Francisco because he can't come up with the $2.20 fare. Unlike Milton's Lucifer, who thought it "better to rule in Hell, than serve in heaven", Andrews seems a bit more ambivalent about the seedy surroundings of the California beach town he finds himself in after his "fall." Also, though this film was made in 1945, there's no direct reference made to the war, or why this relatively young man without dependents wasn't in uniform. If there is a war being fought, for the purposes of this movie, it doesn't seem to be a geopolitical one, but is definitely a conflict between darkness (a sinfully alluring Linda Darnell) and light (Alice Faye, with her blonde, slightly bovine appeal).

 

The cheap restaurant that Andrews wanders into does seem to be a possible anteroom to hell. Here we meet a bunch of men, Percy Kilbride as the fretful, soft-spirited loser who owns the joint, Charles Bickford a watchful, slightly menacing presence, and Bruce Cabot, whose over-ripe manner and hale fellow well met demeanor as the juke box salesman hints at something ugly underneath it all. All of them seem to be waiting for something, anything to happen, even as they eye Andrews warily. That "something" as it turns out, is a slatternly Linda Darnell, introduced as she slumps against the diner's door after going off on a toot with a likely prospect that apparently has gone very much awry. Miss Darnell's undeniable carnal beauty is matched by the relish (pun intended) with which she plays this waitress character who, in between bites of a greasy hamburger tells the slavishly attentive Kilbride that he "makes her sick." Linda Darnell, who previously had specialized in personifying sacred love on screen in such films as The Mark of Zorro and Blood and Sand, has a grand time letting her profane side out to play in this movie.

lindadarnell.JPG

 

When I first saw this noir directed by Otto Preminger, it all seemed absurd. People don't fall in love or even lust as easily as Dana Andrews and company seem to here. Or do they? It was the last year of WWII, there were lots of young men and women whose lives were in upheaval and who'd become involved for a day, a week and sometimes a lifetime back then. Despite our sometimes superficial 21st century view of that period as rather static socially and even formal, the War and the Depression which immediately preceded probably did trigger many an improvised arrangement, (as might be indicated by the spike in divorce rates after the war too). Seems as though the history of the last hundred years was pretty absurd and unpredictable too, so maybe this little tale of love vs. lust=a crime of passion isn't so off the wall, after all.

 

While this movie's plot and characters do sometimes seem absurd, as do many noirs, perhaps this is to emphasize the improbability and chance nature of much of modern life. Interestingly, we learn of drifter Dana Andrews' dubious gifts via his slick ability to latch onto a fellow pair of con artists (John Carradine and Olin Howland), who accept Andrews on face value. It's revealing that unlike the rather suspicious, hostile people he encounters in the town?these two grifters embrace him more fully than do any of the respectable people in the film. Opting to avoid any entanglements other than a growing obsession with Darnell, Andrews decides to strikes out on his own. The possibility of an honest relationship in some kind of lasting familial alliance with these guys inevitably leads Andrews into a worse spiral. It's not until a death occurs does his character realize that for all his cleverness, he has little or no control over his life. Dana Andrews, btw, creates one of his better, more ambivalent characters here. He has several beautifully done, disquieting moments without dialogue, in particular in one scene with Faye when he struggles to prevent himself from revealing the shock and distress he feels on his face.

danaandrews.JPG

Besides, it's a fun ride for awhile. Preminger does all he can to edge over the increasingly blurry Production Code line in this movie, especially when building Darnell's character. Throughout her scenes, her character is established as one very brassy bad apple, as she shiftily secretes a dollar from the cash register in her bosom, or gives a half leer, half come hither smile to Bickford, or when she sizes up Andrews, and doesn't protest too vociferously when Dana grabs her **** during a kiss, (albeit said **** is masked nicely by a coat.)

 

The film also does a nice job with the slightly claustrophobic atmosphere of the town. The art direction--as with many Fox films of this period, is a joy, from the tawdry minginess of Darnell's apartment to the stale Victorian air of Faye's home with her straitlaced sister (Anne Revere, who's good but underutilized, darn it!). Preminger and cinematographer Joseph LaShelle create a wonderful looking film from the characteristically distinctive Preminger titles (seen as road signs at night), to seamless, graceful crane shots that do not call overt attention to the camera work.

 

One major quibble for me was the character of Alice Faye, who's defined as a bookish old maid sort with apparently untapped wells of passion and she's constantly bathed in a nimbus of heavenly light (very similar to that visual shorthand used to glorify Betty Grable, imho). Hmmm, this was a stretch for Faye, since in most of her film work she's a very worldly sort. Alice's strength on screen was her "heart of gold" beneath the generously proportioned soiled dove exterior.Her really strong suit was that voice, which had a richness and warmth and occasional bluesy subtlety that made up for any acting limitations. Here she's not allowed to sing, (though reportedly a sequence with her singing a song during a car ride was cut), and in an attempt to present her as rather prim, she seems subdued and, except for one sequence in a cheap hotel room when Faye and Andrews are on the run, a bit flat. Maybe Alice saw the handwriting on the studio wall and wisely left to pursue the domestic rather than the performing arts once this flick was a wrap. Besides, like so many of her ilk, Faye had been working since childhood, and probably needed a break. It makes me understand why the actress packed it in on her career after this one, (except for some latter day appearances in less than wonderful movies about 17 years later).

alicefaye.JPG

 

By the end of the movie, wound up a bit too neatly for my taste, I was still not sure who the exact title of this movie fits, though I suspect that it might have more accurately been the plural "Fallen Angels."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Mr. Grimes,

I think that as written, Alice Faye's character is choosing life when she marries Dana Andrews. Only thing is, I think Miss Faye's expressive gifts were in large part defined by singing. In that mode of performance she definitely could convey a wealth of feeling, (check out her warbling of "My Man" in Rose of Washington Square sometime for an example of her talent). Unfortunately, acting wasn't really her m?tier.

 

Faye's character also seems to have a somewhat docile nature, willing to be dominated by her steely sister, Anne Revere, and led by the smooth-talking Dana Andrews as well. I thought that her character finds the chaos offered by an involvement with Andrews to be appealing, and there are hints that she's stifled by the town's somnolent atmosphere, but either Faye or the director or the script couldn't really bring out this quality fully.

 

As I mentioned, Alice Faye's best scene is in the hotel room with Andrews, but her often affectless line delivery doesn't really convince me of her ardor. Her seeming passivity and quiet loyalty to Andrews has a certain power too--though I still wonder how long their union will last after The End comes up on the screen. Maybe she just thinks she has the "pedal to the metal" on their life together. If I were to lay odds on it, I'd guess that their relationship is likely to run out of gas on their way "home." It also seems interesting to me that only a few years before, Zanuck and the Fox gang would've been casting Faye in the Darnell part. Come to think of it, wouldn't it have been interesting if the two had exchanged roles?

 

Yes, Linda Darnell's hash-slinging babe is probably one of the hottest and trashiest tootsies in all of film noir. Of course, I also found it pretty incredible to think that such a character really wanted the ring on her finger and a home, as she claimed, triggering Dana to try one more scam. Maybe that plot point was thrown in to appease the Production Code boys, since it seems to indicate that for all the heat generated by this gal, she just wanted an ivy covered cottage after all. Yeah, right!

 

Btw, I think that Darnell is one of the more unjustly neglected actresses of the studio era. I guess my early exposure to La Linda as the sharp cookie from the other side of the tracks in A Letter to Three Wives and as the possibly adulterous wife in Unfaithfully Yours made me aware of her abilities beyond her looks. She was the kind of woman a guy could commit a crime for.

 

One more thing: did anyone buy for a minute that Alice Faye believed Dana Andrews' blather about Alice having a career based on her alleged musical skill at the church organ? Or was that just one of the script's occasional moments of comic relief?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't seen the film in a while, but I remember enjoying the film. Gotta revisit to see why everyone gushes over Linda Darnell. I just thought she & Alice Faye were two sides (blonde/brunette) of the same coin. Golly, those screen captures of Alice Faye are great. Can you imagine being Phil Harris waking up to her dreamy eyes and messy bed head. Whew! I'll be reading your words Frank, and it goes in my screen notebook. Ya oughta write a book, dude.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, CineMaven -- I'll be reading your words Frank, and it goes in my screen notebook.

 

Thanks, CM. I'll pay you back by watching The Letter. I've seen the beginning of the film and I definitely liked what I saw. I enjoyed the look of the film, that's for sure.

 

Ya oughta write a book, dude.

 

That's far too kind of you to say.

 

I don't possess the film knowledge to write any kind of book on film. The person who should write a book is Ms. Finnie. Now that's someone who can truly write. She's phenomenal.

 

Gotta revisit to see why everyone gushes over Linda Darnell. I just thought she & Alice Faye were two sides (blonde/brunette) of the same coin.

 

Stella (Linda Darnell) and Eric (Dana Andrews) are two sides of the same coin. Stella and June (Alice Faye) are opposites. Stella is all about living it up, using men for gain. June is trapped in her own prison. Her mind overrules her passions.

 

Linda Darnell is worth revisiting at Pop's.

 

fallenangel42.jpg

 

fallenangel43.jpg

 

fallenangel44.jpg

 

fallenangel45.jpg

 

fallenangel46.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One more thing: did anyone buy for a minute that Alice Faye believed Dana Andrews' blather about Alice having a career based on her alleged musical skill at the church organ? Or was that just one of the script's occasional moments of comic relief?

 

I bought it. Why? Because June liked hearing a guy tell her things no other guy has ever said to her before. Did she believe every little thing this guy said to her? Of course not. Did she like hearing those things, nonetheless? Absolutely. It's not about the literal, but the emotional. It feels awfully good to have someone tell you that you are beautiful and talented, even if you yourself don't fully believe it. It also feels good to dream once in awhile. To imagine something grander than reality. June did dream with her "magazine ads," so she did have a longing for another existence.

 

FrankGrimes, I bought it as well. After all, he also told Stella what he thought she wanted to hear, although the jaded woman that she is about men, she stated something to the effect of "You talk different sure, but you drive just the same as the others", and demanded proof to back up the line that he was giving her. I also believe she meant it with the whole ring and marriage bit, because she wanted something she never had, nor did her mother. She wanted respectability, a home and a husband. Back then this was the norm for women, and those that didn't were bad, but that didn't mean they couldn't have craved to change their circumstances, even in Noir. Of course, Andrews' determination to win Stella on her terms set into motion the plot mechanizations of the movie.

 

The comparison of Dana Andrews' to Babara Stanwyck's character Mae Doyle from Clash By Night falters in that a man that goes out and explores the world and lives it up, well...that's what a man is allowed to do, with no judgement rendered on him. On the other hand, the reason Mae is treated the way she is is because she does the same thing, but this is not permitted of women, at least historically, without these repercussions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The comparison of Dana Andrews' to Babara Stanwyck's character Mae Doyle from Clash By Night falters in that a man that goes out and explores the world and lives it up, well...that's what a man is allowed to do, with no judgement rendered on him. On the other hand, the reason Mae is treated the way she is is because she does the same thing, but this is not permitted of women, at least historically, without these repercussions.

 

I agree that there is a double standard when it comes to men and women in terms of "living it up," but my comparison was on the nature of Eric and Mae and not how society judges them. Both are restless souls. I think Stella is also a restless soul, but that's a little more grey to me.

 

I don't believe Mae really gave a hoot about how society was judging her. Her being down on life was brought on by her feeling of, "where do I go from here?" Mae had lost a guy (a politician, who died) who she thought cared about her, although she was merely his mistress. She had run out of places to run, so she crawled home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't believe Mae really gave a hoot about how society was judging her. Her being down on life was brought on by her feeling of, "where do I go from here?" Mae had lost a guy (a politician, who died) who she thought cared about her, although she was merely his mistress. She had run out of places to run, so she crawled home.

 

FrankGrimes, at the risk of veering off course in this thread, I always imagined Mae as one of the characters that Barbara played in her earliy 30s melodramas, like Baby Face 20 years later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Arturo -- FrankGrimes, at the risk of veering off course in this thread, I always imagined Mae as one of the characters that Barbara played in her earliy 30s melodramas, like Baby Face 20 years later.

 

I wouldn't worry about the "course." I'm arguably the biggest offender of "off course" on this board. Although, BronxGirl does give me a run for my money, which is yet another reason why I really like her.

 

I think you are absolutely right about Mae Doyle (Clash by Night) being like Lily Powers (Baby Face). You could say that Mae is what Lily "grew up" to be. Excellent observation by you.

 

One of the things I really like about Baby Face is that we have great empathy for Lily Powers at the outset because of what her father was putting her through. We don't really empathize with Mae like that. Mae's situation seems to be a creation of her own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I showed this dvd to a friend last week, who was only vaguely aware of Linda Darnell (although He's seen my copies of A Letter To Three Wives and No Way Out). He thought she was "hot" and thought she looked Chicana (as we both are). He loved the movie even more than Nightmare Alley, which we saw that night as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw "Fallen Angel" last Sunday (01/06/08) at NYC's Film Forum. Good solid movie. Great cast. Alice Faye was lovely and Darnell...boy oh boy oh boy. Otto! Otto! Otto!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The production code must have been looking the other way, when they showed Faye and Andrews

lying together on the same bed--the code specifically stated that no man and woman, even mariied, can be photographed on the same bed unless one actor had their foot on the floor.~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/10/2007 at 10:34 AM, pandorainmay said:

lindadarnell.JPG

 

When I first saw this noir directed by Otto Preminger, it all seemed absurd. People don't fall in love or even lust as easily as Dana Andrews and company seem to here.

danaandrews.JPG

Absurd?  Dana Andrews thought it was absurd and didn't want to do it.   Faye insisted on getting Andrews.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can understand where the Andrews character was coming from:

Linda Darnell - I Like The Way You Talk - YouTube

PS:   I really like this film,  even if some of the scenes with Alice Faye kind of drag it down.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...