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Fallen Angel (1945)


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28 minutes ago, Moorman said:

Stella.  She is the narcissist that runs from man to man.  This leads me to believe that this film was the wrong vehicle to try and showcase Alice Faye and the director knew it.  The TITLE of the book and film is about Stella and the search for which of her lovers bumped her off...

So you are saying Alice Faye was really playing a secondary character. But because she was the bigger star, this was supposed to be a vehicle for her. 

22 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I can see that,  but as TB points out it is from a sexist and very dated POV.    I.e.that the label of fallen angle,  implies that women that behave like that deserve to be murdered by jealous \ insecure men.

But of course given the times,  the prevailing view was that women who were sexually open were 'bad' by definition and Hollywood generally reflected this view under the Production code (but during the pre-code era there were exceptions like Baby Face and Red-Headed Women).

Yes, and these studios kept trying to do stories about fallen or compromised women long after the production code started being enforced. This particular studio, Fox, ran into trouble two years later attempting to adapt FOREVER AMBER with the same director and that time with Darnell in the lead. It's like the best they could do with her was to put her in these lurid tales about bad women. 

Oscar voters favored the Loretta Youngs and Olivia De Havillands who were playing long-suffering mothers and good girls (THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER and TO EACH HIS OWN). In those days you did not get awards for playing evil women. And yet the studios were obsessed with casting starlets as sex-mad femme fatales. Was it because the studio bosses were chauvinists who saw these gals as pieces of meat they could objectify on screen and get into bed off screen? 

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

So you are saying Alice Faye was really playing a secondary character. But because she was the bigger star, this was supposed to be a vehicle for her. 

Yes, and these studios kept trying to do stories about fallen or compromised women long after the production code started being enforced. This particular studio, Fox, ran into trouble two years later attempting to adapt FOREVER AMBER with the same director and that time with Darnell in the lead. It's like the best they could do with her was to put her in these lurid tales about bad women. 

Oscar voters favored the Loretta Youngs and Olivia De Havillands who were playing long-suffering mothers and good girls (THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER and TO EACH HIS OWN). In those days you did not get awards for playing evil women. And yet the studios were obsessed with casting starlets as sex-mad femme fatales. Was it because the studio bosses were chauvinists who saw these gals as pieces of meat they could objectify on screen and get into bed off screen? 

Yes. I believe that she was playing a secondary character from the novel and thus she and the studio picked the wrong film to try and feature her.  The director knew this also. I could be totally wrong but thats how I'm viewing this.

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2 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I can see that,  but as TB points out it is from a sexist and very dated POV.    I.e.that the label of fallen angle,  implies that women that behave like that deserve to be murdered by jealous \ insecure men.

But of course given the times,  the prevailing view was that women who were sexually open were 'bad' by definition and Hollywood generally reflected this view under the Production code (but during the pre-code era there were exceptions like Baby Face and Red-Headed Women).

 

I'm thinking that the director and screenwriter took the novel as it was and put it on the screen.  When you research it the book wasn't even published yet and the studio had already purchased the rights to the screenplay. The author of the book originally wanted to write screenplays but was better at writing novels.

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

So you are saying Alice Faye was really playing a secondary character. But because she was the bigger star, this was supposed to be a vehicle for her. 

Yes, and these studios kept trying to do stories about fallen or compromised women long after the production code started being enforced. This particular studio, Fox, ran into trouble two years later attempting to adapt FOREVER AMBER with the same director and that time with Darnell in the lead. It's like the best they could do with her was to put her in these lurid tales about bad women. 

Oscar voters favored the Loretta Youngs and Olivia De Havillands who were playing long-suffering mothers and good girls (THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER and TO EACH HIS OWN). In those days you did not get awards for playing evil women. And yet the studios were obsessed with casting starlets as sex-mad femme fatales. Was it because the studio bosses were chauvinists who saw these gals as pieces of meat they could objectify on screen and get into bed off screen? 

As for Stella as the fallen angel:  I wonder how 'bad' she was in the book because in the film she does some things that show she isn't a 'bad' as she may appear.   One was that marriage (she uses the term 'the ring') was important to her.   She makes this clear a few times to Eric when he gets to sexually aggressive.   Another was when Eric comes to her apartment (after he tells her he can't marry her now,  until his scam to get money is pulled off),  she doesn't invite him in and instead opens the door to her place and makes says something like 'see,  no one is here!'.      So I get the feeling she wasn't having sex with all of those dates,  including Eric (which explains why Eric was so up tight;  he wanted her and she was only willing to go to second base).

Of course this could be Code driven as well so I wonder if in the book she does the deed or not with those men.

As for Olivia De Havilland and To Each His Own;  While De Havilland had always played the 'good'girl,  in TEHO the character (Jody) had sex with an out of town man she had only known for a few days and this was around 1917 or so.     From the POV of the time period that would clearly be what only 'bad' girls do.    The most touching scene in the film is when she tells her father and he says to her that they don't judge each other,  they love each other.  Gets to me every time.    As you know De Havilland won the Oscar for this role.   I'll have to check to see if that was a first; an actress playing a character getting pregnant out of wedlock winning the Oscar.    I also wonder what actress was the first to be nominated for best actress playing such that type of role.    

 

  

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32 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

As for Stella as the fallen angel:  I wonder how 'bad' she was in the book because in the film she does some things that show she isn't a 'bad' as she may appear.   One was that marriage (she uses the term 'the ring') was important to her.   She makes this clear a few times to Eric when he gets to sexually aggressive.   Another was when Eric comes to her apartment (after he tells her he can't marry her now,  until his scam to get money is pulled off),  she doesn't invite him in and instead opens the door to her place and makes says something like 'see,  no one is here!'.      So I get the feeling she wasn't having sex with all of those dates,  including Eric (which explains why Eric was so up tight;  he wanted her and she was only willing to go to second base).

Of course this could be Code driven as well so I wonder if in the book she does the deed or not with those men.

As for Olivia De Havilland and To Each His Own;  While De Havilland had always played the 'good'girl,  in TEHO the character (Jody) had sex with an out of town man she had only known for a few days and this was around 1917 or so.     From the POV of the time period that would clearly be what only 'bad' girls do.    The most touching scene in the film is when she tells her father and he says to her that they don't judge each other,  they love each other.  Gets to me every time.    As you know De Havilland won the Oscar for this role.   I'll have to check to see if that was a first; an actress playing a character getting pregnant out of wedlock winning the Oscar.    I also wonder what actress was the first to be nominated for best actress playing such that type of role.      

Interesting comment(s). Yes, I think a lot of the story choices in FALLEN ANGEL are code driven. There is probably a different side of Stella in the book this film can only suggest. 

As for actresses winning Oscars, Helen Hayes won an Oscar for THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET (1931). In that story she played a woman who had a son and gave him up, like Olivia's character did in the later film. However, Hayes' character works as a prostitute (it's pre-code) but she suffers a great deal before she's ironically reunited with her son in the final sequence. As long as the women paid for their sins and made extraordinary sacrifices, then they were redeemable and the actresses could be given the Oscar.

Rosalind Russell plays an unrepetentant bad girl in MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA. She was upset when she lost to Loretta Young, but it's silly that she would even think she stood a chance. Her character was not the type of role Oscar voters rewarded leading actresses for playing. Again you could not play an evil woman and take home the Oscar. I think there was a fear that it was an endorsement of that type of woman, like an inability to separate the character from the actress, or what the actress conveyed on screen. This is why Stanwyck did not win for DOUBLE INDEMNITY. To give her the Oscar would mean they were rewarding Stanwyck for glamorizing or promoting evil. They just wouldn't do that.

Honestly I don't think we really had an actress taking home the Oscar for an evil woman until Kathy Bates won for MISERY in 1990. 

I know we are getting away from the topic of FALLEN ANGEL. Maybe we can start another thread about the kinds of roles that typically win awards.

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How about Mary Astor in The Great Lie?  That story is complicated, in that Astor and George Brent are married, then find out that Astor is technically still married to her first husband, so there's bigamy, too, as well as illegitimacy.  Of course she nobly gives up her child to Brent's new wife Bette Davis, pretending she doesn't care, but she really does.  That's how they did it in Hollywood.

Astor got an Oscar, supporting, I think.  There's that one scene where she is looking at photos of her given-up son.  The changing expressions on her face in the space of a few seconds surely were what got her that Oscar.

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23 hours ago, Emily Emerac said:

How about Mary Astor in The Great Lie?  That story is complicated, in that Astor and George Brent are married, then find out that Astor is technically still married to her first husband, so there's bigamy, too, as well as illegitimacy.  Of course she nobly gives up her child to Brent's new wife Bette Davis, pretending she doesn't care, but she really does.  That's how they did it in Hollywood.

Astor got an Oscar, supporting, I think.  There's that one scene where she is looking at photos of her given-up son.  The changing expressions on her face in the space of a few seconds surely were what got her that Oscar.

Yes,  technically the Astor character was a bigamist as well as having sex and subsequent child out-of-wedlock but she didn't know her divorce wasn't legal when she married the Brent character so I don't see her as 'bad' in that sense.   

As for giving up her child;  I always felt she really didn't care,  period and her doing so wasn't a noble act but instead a selfish one;  she didn't want to have a child interfere in her life as a single women \ concert pianist.  To me the unreal part of the plot is coming came back to claim the child after she found out the father hadn't died.  Based on what we had seen before I don't see any reason why she would do so other than just to stick it to the Davis character (because the Astor character didn't act like she wanted Brent back and had to assume he wasn't going to go back to her no matter what).      So to me that falls under 'that's how they did it in Hollywood'.

Yes, Actor won the Oscar for best supporting and was very thankful that Davis (being fairly low-key in the film) let her shine and she does.     Fine film.  Well acted, good production values and a solid example of the Warner Brothers studio system of the 40s.    

       

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25 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Yes,  technically the Astor character was a bigamist as well as having sex and subsequent child out-of-wedlock but she didn't know her divorce wasn't legal when she married the Brent character so I don't see how her as 'bad' in that sense.   

As for giving up her child;  I always felt she really didn't care,  period and her doing so wasn't a noble act but instead a selfish one;  she didn't want to have a child interfere in her life as a single women \ concert pianist.  To me the unreal part of the plot is coming came back to claim the child after she found out the father hadn't died.  Based on what we had seen before I don't see any reason why she would do so other than just to stick it to the Davis character (because the Astor character didn't act like she wanted Brent back and had to assume he wasn't going to go back to her no matter what).      So to me that falls under 'that's how they did it in Hollywood'.

Yes, Actor won the Oscar for best supporting and was very thankful that Davis (being fairly low-key in the film) let her shine and she does.     Fine film.  Well acted, good production values and a solid example of the Warner Brothers studio system of the 40s.           

Your comments make me want to watch this film again!

Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 7.07.33 PM.jpg

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17 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Your comments make me want to watch this film again!

Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 7.07.33 PM.jpg

Yes, me too.  I'm a big fan of Mary Astor, although I think she sported some of the ugliest hairdos of her era.  I think my all time favorite performance of hers may be in Dodsworth, but then again, maybe in Palm Beach Story.  Or maybe in a dozen other movies.  Actually, I can't think of a movie of hers I didn't like her in, even if I didn't like the movie itself.

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  • 1 year later...
On 8/24/2018 at 12:39 PM, TopBilled said:

One of the things that got cut was a musical number. Faye actually had a bigger career as a recording artist. So her movies often promoted songs she recorded and took to the top of the charts. She was basically the female equivalent of Bing Crosby during those years. Having a new song cut from FALLEN ANGEL would have affected her record sales and radio airplay. I think this was more than just jealousy about Darnell. She had to have known she was a bigger star than Darnell and a much bigger moneymaker.

It was really the fact that Zanuck was preventing her from cross-promoting her music. Also, I think playing a straight dramatic role was quite challenging for her and she was burned out after she finished this picture. She did not end her contract with the studio, she just refused to do any more pictures and she was on an indefinite suspension.

Into the late 40s and early 50s the radio show she did with husband Phil Harris (who was still making pictures at Fox) always billed her as Alice Faye, courtesy of 20th Century Fox, indicating she was still under contract. This is why she never made any films at other studios during those years. Zanuck refused to terminate her contract. From what I read she continued to "owe" the studio one more picture until she finally did STATE FAIR in 1962, which ironically had its previous version released in 1945 the same year she made FALLEN ANGEL.

She worked on STATE FAIR when Zanuck was off in Europe and no longer doing the day-to-day overseeing of the studio in Hollywood. She held a grudge against him that whole time. After STATE FAIR and the end of her contract with Fox, she was finally able to start freelancing. I read somewhere how Zanuck tried hard to get her to do STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER (the role Ruth Hussey ultimately did). It's a shame she was still at loggerheads with Zanuck, because that film would have been perfect for her.

Actually, Faye did not have a big career as a recording artist (unfortunately) and did not record after 1937.  So-called genius Zanuck did not permit his stars to record commercially because he thought people wouldn't come to see the movies if they could hear them at home.  Apparently he had never heard of Bing Crosby. 

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On 5/1/2020 at 2:58 AM, burlyq said:

Actually, Faye did not have a big career as a recording artist (unfortunately) and did not record after 1937.   

I didn't realize this.

From her wiki page:

"During her years as a musical superstar, Alice Faye managed to introduce 23 songs to the Hit Parade. She was the first female crooner and equivalent to Bing Crosby."

Also:

"Irving Berlin was once quoted as saying that he would choose Faye over any other singer to introduce his songs, and George Gershwin and Cole Porter called her the best female singer in Hollywood."

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 7.31.59 PM.jpeg

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