Angel Face (1953)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Film Noir, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Angel Face is an atypical film noir piece that has developed a considerable cult reputation over the years. Those who favor the film find it a fascinating examination of detached evil, one that captures a certain coolness of tone that is not so much heartless as it is simply devoid of feeling and intent. Others, however, find the resulting deliberate pacing much too slow and dreary, and the motivations of the characters confusing if not inscrutable. Certainly, director Otto Preminger and leading lady Jean Simmons have created a most curious and intriguing femme fatale, one who seems to be going through her actions with no real conception of what they mean and no real thought about how she should behave. This aspect of the character -- coupled with Preminger's precise, brutal filming of the accident - make the inadvertent death of the father strangely powerful. Simmons is fascinating throughout, seeming to act totally in the moment, but as if the moment were entirely understood only by her character. Robert Mitchum is a perfect foil for her, disturbingly rational and more keenly aware of the world around him, but somehow drawn into her spell in spite of himself. The cool, detached qualities that make Angel Face special will alienate many, but those who tune into it will be rewarded.