Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fallen Angel *** 1/2

Fallen Angel is Otto Preminger's follow-up to Laura, another noir story of a beautiful woman and her effect on the men around her. In this case the beauty is Stella, played by Linda Darnell. Several reviews compared the picture to Laura , a 1944 Twentieth Century-Fox production that was also directed by Preminger, starred Dana Andrews, and featured music by David Raksin and photography by Joseph La Shelle.
Preminger liked long takes though the camera manned by the very expert Joseph LaShell (who also photographed Laura and River of No Return for Preminger, as well as My Cousin Rachel, The Apartment, and Billy Wilder's following three films) was not at all static. The black-and-white scenes look crisp and allow the actors to convey emotion.

The movie is not as relentless as Detour or as witty as Laura. It (especially the second half) is plenty melodramatic and
involves a change of heart I find highly suspect. It is better to look at than it is to think about. Many would say the same about Linda Darnell's "performance." Little as she was asked to do, she did less, yet was accepted again by Preminger (who wanted Lana Turner) in Forever Amber, and appeared in films directed by John Ford, Preston Sturges, and Joseph Mankiewcz during the late 1940. She must have had a "special" relationship with Fox magnate Daryl F. Zanuck.**

DId You Know??

According to modern sources, Alice Faye(who was Fox biggest star after Shirley Temple was angered when studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck ordered her rendition of the song, as well as several of her dramatic scenes, cut from the picture in order to emphasize Linda Darnell's role. Consequently, Faye left Twentieth Century-Fox without fulfilling the rest of her contract, which called for the making of two more films. Fallen Angel was Faye's first picture since the 1943 film The Gang's All Here , (although she did make a brief singing appearance in 1944's Four Jills and a Jeep ); it was her first and only purely dramatic role; and was her last film until the 1962 picture State Fair , for which she returned to Twentieth Century-Fox. ** Stephen Murray toxic universe

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