“Fallen Angel” (1945) starring Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, & Linda Darnell

[1] The tainted, ambiguous relationships that Dana Andrews forges… make this film a dark study in romantic pathology. It also features Linda Darnell at her most sultry and mercenary… Andrews’ very layered tension between rich good gal Faye and gold-digging bad girl Darnell keeps the viewer off balance all the way through.

[2] Preminger’s fluid camera work and long takes here reach perfection… Each scene is shot and elaborated with precision, with minimum amount of edits to elucidate the emotions of the characters.

The magnificent chiaroscuro photography by Joseph LaShelle has certain crispness and lucidity…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Stella: What do you do when you don’t tell fortunes?

Eric: I help make ’em for others.

Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) is thrown off a Greyhound bus for not having enough fare to reach San Francisco. With just a dollar in his pocket, he lands in Walton, a small coastal town. Eric goes to a little diner by the beach and meets the owner, Pop (Perry Kilbride), retired NYC cop Mark Judd (Charles Bickford), and young waitress Stella (Linda Darnell- then only 21 y.o.) An “old friend” of Eric’s, Professor Madley (John Carradine- in a brief supporting role), is coming to the local hotel to hold a “spiritual” (psychic) show. Madley’s assistant, Ellis, laments that there may not be a show, since the former mayor’s daughter (a respected leader) disapproves of “spooks.” Eric (“a promoter”) goes to the Mills house to speak w/ this woman, Clara (Anne Revere- a character actress descended from Paul Revere). She’s unimpressed by his words, but her younger sister, June (Alice Faye), later convinces her to support the show. Then the drama begins!

Stella [to Eric on the beach]: You talk different, sure. But you drive just like the rest. Well, you’ve got the wrong girl.

TCM’s Eddie Muller noted that it’s a shame that this film suffered, as it was compared to director Otto Preminger’s previous film- Laura (1944)- which was a big hit. I saw Fallen Angel recently and really enjoyed it! The story comes from a novel written by a young woman (Mary Hallen); she wrote under a male pen name. Preminger (known for his demanding personality) was one of the best directors of his time; he made Angel Face (1953) and Anatomy of a Murder (1954)- two notable noir movies. He used much of the crew from Laura; we also see Dorothy Adams (Laura’s loyal “domestic”) as Stella’s neighbor. Andrews (who played a straight-shooting NYC cop in Laura) didn’t want to do Fallen Angel, as he disliked his character. I thought he did a fine job playing a charming con man (who can be shady or sweet). He and Darnell have terrific chemistry when they banter and are esp. good at playing the romance angle.

Eric [to June after their first date]: No. One kiss goes a long way with you. You need a guy who will take it the same way. Who will give you marriage, with all the trimmings. Home and kids. Who will walk to church with you every Sunday. Save all your good nights for him.

Faye (at age 28 y.o.) was already a big star in Hollywood; this is why she has top billing. After taking a break to start a family, she was very disappointed w/ how 20th Century Fox finally cut this film. Faye left the studio once she saw that her best scenes were edited out. Instead of balancing out the love triangle, producer Daryl Zanuck put the focus more on Eric and Stella; he was involved in a romantic relationship w/ Darnell during filming. Thus, Eric and June’s relationship comes off as rushed. There is a great scene between Andrews and Faye in the third act. You can see the movie (in HD) below!

2 thoughts on ““Fallen Angel” (1945) starring Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, & Linda Darnell

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