“How stupid do you think I am? You hate that woman, and someday you’re gonna hate her enough to kill her. It’s been in the back of your mind all along.”
The manipulative daughter (Jean Simmons) of a writer (Herbert Marshall) tries to enlist the help of her new chauffeur (Robert Mitchum) in killing her wealthy stepmother (Barbara O’Neil).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Femmes Fatales
- Herbert Marshall Films
- Jean Simmons Films
- Otto Preminger Films
- Plot to Murder
- Robert Mitchum Films
Otto Preminger’s atmospheric thriller features compelling performances, beautiful b&w cinematography, and several unexpected deviations from the traditional noir set-up. Unlike most of the heedless chumps populating this genre, Mitchum’s character (always savvy — he’s a relentlessly intelligent actor) never fully falls for “Angel Face”; and while Simmons’ femme fatale is appropriately manipulative and reckless, her motivations lie deeper than mere exploitation and greed. The narrative’s pacing foils expectations as well: the courtroom scene — which one would expect to be the final climax — isn’t; indeed, if you’ve never seen Angel Face, avoid reading any other online reviews, since most of them give away the ending.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Robert Mitchum as Frank
- Jean Simmons as Diane
- Crisp b&w cinematography by Harry Stradling
Yes. This unusual little noir film is now regarded as one of Preminger’s best.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)