Out of the Past: The Films of Robert Mitchum

Angel Face

Otto PremingerUSA91 minutes1953B&WEnglish

Feb 10
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    Famously named by Godard as one of the ten best American sound films of all time, Angel Face stars Jean Simmons as Diane Tremayne, one of the most ambiguous femmes fatales in all of noir. A coolly compulsive child of privilege, Diane dotes unnaturally on her father (Herbert Marshall) and despises his new wife, a rich, martini-swilling bitch who keeps Daddy on a tight leash. Meeting ambulance jockey Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum) after a suspicious gas leak at the family's L.A. mansion, Diane convinces her stepmother to hire him as the family chauffeur, igniting a love affair that leads inexorably into romantic obsession, double jeopardy, murder, and more murder. Mitchum brings a laconic virility to the seemingly level-headed Frank, who, despite drawling that the tormented Tremayne clan is "a weird outfit, not for me," nevertheless finds himself helplessly ensnared in their hilltop lair. "My favourite Preminger noir ... The most enigmatic and haunting of Preminger's works after Laura" (Jonathan Rosenbaum).