Turn on the flashing lights and crank up the siren. Fasten your seat belt and get ready for crazy lady alert. This review is for the slick noir drama called Angel Face (1953)
What’s going down?
The police have arrived. An unconscious woman is found in her mansion high up in Beverly Hills California. It’s revealed that the lady has suffered gas poisoning. The flame to her heater had been either blown out or just left open. Was the woman suicidal or had someone in the house tampered with the appliance? The cool, handsome ambulance driver Frank arrives at the scene to do his thing. As he leaves, he’s greeted by the victims young stepdaughter. She’s hysterical. He slaps her, she slaps him back. Like a normal lady of noir she falls for this strong and forceful man. He happens to be engaged. She decides to stalk him. He’s OK with it. She has an angel face with crazy eyes. What could possibly go wrong?
The main players
Robert Mitchum – Frank Jessup
Jean Simmons – Diane Tremayne
Mona Freeman – Mary Wilton
Herbert Marshall – Charles Tremayne
Barbara O’Neil as Catherine Tremayne
Kenneth Tobey as Bill
Leon Ames as Fred Barrett
Tagline – NAKED DRAMA as fierce and unashamed as the crime that gave it birth!
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
London lass Jean Simmons plays the beautiful young girl whom could possibly be, a little disturbed. The first time I believe I saw Miss Simmons would of been in the Powell & Pressburger classic Black Narcissus (1947) where she played the stunning Indian young dancer, Kanchi. However it wouldn’t be until I re-watched it last year that I became aware that it was actually her. Her dance in the colourful elaborate hall is absolutely gorgeous to watch. She will be of course most known for playing Varinia alongside Kirk Douglas in Spartacus (1960) and sandwiched in-between Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra in Guys and Dolls (1955). Apart from these I haven’t seen that much else. So you know what to do in the comment section please….
Robert Mitchum! Not really any point saying too much about him apart from he’s awesome, like everyone knows. I’m slowly working my way through his filmography and enjoying every minute of it. Expect more Mitchum’s arriving on my film blog in the forthcoming future. Here’s a few I’ve featured so far. His Kind Of Woman (1951) with Jane Russell and Vincent Price. Crossfire (1947) with Robert Ryan and that seventies one you have to see if you haven’t already The Yakuza (1974). It’s masterpiece in my eyes.
TAGLINE – “FASTER! FASTER! FASTER!…. He thrilled to her lying lips… yielded to her whispered promises… plunged into the trap her love had set for him!”
Notes on production?
Now this is where things get even more interesting. That slap mentioned above is reported to have caused a big upset. Director Otto Preminger ordered Robert Mitchum to keep slapping poor Jean Simmons across the face in repeated takes. Alarmed and frustrated, it said that Mitch turned around and slapped, with force I can only imagine, Preminger “Is that the way you want it?“. Ready to burst, he demanded Howard Hughes, the producer, that Mitchum be replaced! Luckily Hughes refused and Robert and Otto carried on.
Howard Hughes had his own issues going on with Jean Simmons. He had purchased her contract without her knowledge some years before and it was soon to run out, freeing her to work else where. Before the production started she cut off her hair, knowing full well that Hughes loved his leading ladies, like Jane Russell, to have long luscious hair. She’d hoped he wouldn’t want her and her contract would pass on by. Nope! “Stick a wig on her Otto and I’ll give you a bonus if you get the film finished before her contract expires“. Otto got it done.
Hits like a sledge hammer
I know I’ve mentioned it a few times, it’s hard not to. Especially when this section is called what it is?
The sound of controllable wailing! “Stop it!“…… slap. She looks shocked for a few seconds. Then SLAP! She fires one back with force. “Now look the manual says it’s supposed to stop hysterics, it doesn’t say a word about getting slapped back!” Those eyes of her’s light up. “I’m sorry“… “It’s alright forget it. I’ve been slapped by dames before. Next time see if you can pull that punch a little better.” He begins to walk off….. She looks on transfixed. Smitten. It starts!
It’s not really a spoiler as it’s right at the very beginning of the journey. Don’t worry I won’t even mention what else may or may not happen! Just be assured it’s also sledge hammer worthy.
Frank – “I’m not accusing anybody. But if I were a cop, and not a very bright cop at that, I’d say that your story was as phony as a three dollar bill.“
This picture is super moody and filled with high intensity. All coming from Jean Simmon’s magnificent performance. Each lingering shot of her face reveals another level of unhinged cracks. Robert Mitchum is his usual cool self, wandering from one scene to another popping a cigarette into his mouth. To be honest the dude has a pretty saucy girlfriend waiting for him in her underwear but like any good noir doofus they just gotta go for those crazy ones.
Considering that Otto Preminger had to race through this project he still manages to fit a hell of a lot in. There’s even time for some court room drama. The night scenes are specially great with the classic noir lighting and mood. It’s at times haunting, has a flash of the outlandish and that feeling, that good noir gives, are we headed down that doom-laden path? It’s very recommended. Cheers Todd again for the great nudge.
Wolfman’s rating 9/10 IMDB 7.3/10
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf
PS This new WordPress Block Editor is an arse! How’s everyone else getting on with it?