6 April 2004 | secragt
Sensationally Nuts (But Entertaining)
FALLEN ANGEL so brazenly bowls right through and over a bevy of inconsistencies and implausibilities, it is a surprisingly entertaining ride. It's certainly not better than LAURA or anything approaching "seminal" and does have credibility gaps wider than the Grand Canyon (unusual for Preminger), but I seem to keep coming back to one thing.. this is a satisfying movie!
One significant plus is the performances of the three leads. Diamond- jawed toughguy con artist Dana Andrews dizzily monotones his way through a fusillade of come-ons and take-offs, shucking and jiving his way upwards in a bedroom community with quiet panache and casual menace. Alice Faye (who was so edited out in favor of Linda Darnell that she basically quit the business for the better part of two decades) shines as the closeted church organist with a heart of gold and lust. And Darnell makes the most of her smoulderingly disaffected come hither (but don't touch me) gazes. As bizarre as it is to think men would order lousy food in the greasy spoon dive where Darnell waitresses day after day, year after year in order to be around her, this is about the only thing in the entire script which is remotely plausible.
Don't examine motives, track character arcs or analyze logic and you'll be happier with FALLEN ANGEL. In a movie where the police deputize civilians to beat up witnesses in order to "gather information" and where some individuals' entire character and identity change at the drop of a hat, the charm of this movie is in the gleefully melodramatic yet charming interactions of the love quadrilateral that is Alice Faye, Faye's sister, Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell. In particular, Andrews and Darnell display some good chemistry in their dark and twisted courtship, which in 2004 plays as much like a borderline stalking and attempted rape as it does romance. It must have been particularly racy in 1945.
Not believable for a second, but enjoyable for more than an hour, FALLEN ANGEL is worth a look for hardcore fans of crime drama, noir, and Dana Andrews / Linda Darnell. Possibly the definitive example of "bad boy meets bad girl, bad boy marries good girl to steal her money to get bad girl, bad boy blamed for bad girl's murder, bad boy ends up with good girl thanks to bizarre and ridiculous deus ex machina ending" out there. Like Andrews' irrational love for Darnell, the less you analyze it, the more hidden charms you may find to appreciate. Seven bullets out of ten.