(1945)2.5Craig ButlerFallen Angel, Otto Preminger's post-Laura excursion into noir, is nowhere near as successful as the earlier classic, but it's a decent enough little film. Certainly it boasts some very fine Joseph LaShelle cinematography that is filled with all the light, shadows, and angles that any noir flick should have. Indeed, often LaShelle's work is the most engrossing thing to be found on the screen. This isn't meant to slight the talents of Angel's star trio. Dana Andrews, Alice Faye, and Linda Darnell all turn in performances that are more than respectable; at the same time, they are all less than perfect. Darnell probably comes out best, helped by the fact that all she's required to do is smolder and be sullen. But Andrews can't find the right combination of charm and toughness that the role requires. He's charming at times, and certainly tough, but the former never quite counteracts the latter; as a result, the audience can neither understand why Faye falls for him nor believe that she would stick with him -- and this fatally undermines Angel's effectiveness. For her part, Faye doesn't dig deeply enough into her character (which fact may support her contention that her best scenes were deleted), and she can't find a way to credibly convey to the audience either the desire that lays buried inside her or the overwhelming relief she finds when Andrews unlocks it. Director Preminger shares in the blame for his stars' problems; although the film is directed with style and occasional flair, there are too many sequences that don't hit the mark. Even a scene that should have been a sure-fire Preminger classic -- the interrogation of Darnell's boyfriend -- misses the mark, coming across as curiously lacking in passion. Fallen Angel does have a very solid supporting cast, with expert work from Anne Revere, Charles Bickford, and, in a small but memorable turn, John Carradine. It's more than watchable, but it could have been so much more.