Fallen Angel Movie Review
Otto Preminger's Fallen Angel is a textbook example of well-crafted noir. It has the just right mix of atmosphere, characters, and flim-flammery. The mysterious Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) arrives in a small coastal California town and stops in at a diner called, naturally, Pop's Eats, to do some advance promotion for an itinerant phony psychic who will be putting on a show the next night. Within moments, he's deeply in love with the waitress, the classicly noir Stella (Linda Darnell), a real looker with great gams and a tough attitude. Those lips, those eyes, those barbed remarks... Eric's in love.
Since Stella won't have anything to do with some deadbeat from out of town unless he's loaded, Eric starts sniffing around looking for a scam. Cue the rich spinster. Within days, he's putting the moves on the repressed June Mills (Alice Faye), and she's falling for it despite the very well articulated protests of her even more spinsterish sister Clara (Anne Revere). Rushing things right along, Eric takes the sisters to San Francisco, and after some shenanigans with their safe deposit boxes, he marries June in a quickie ceremony, and heads back to the small town a much richer man. But there's one small problem: Stella the waitress turns up very much dead.
So who done it, and why? With a very small pool of suspects and only about 35 minutes of running time left, you won't strain your brain too much as you try to puzzle it out. It's a little tougher than a Scooby-Doo episode, but not much. The pleasure here is not in the plot but in the atmosphere, in all those great noir details that have frozen a particularly seedy side of post-World War II America in beautiful black and white forever. Everyone is a striver. Everyone wants something more. Everyone wants a big black car. Heck, you almost expect Mildred Pierce to show up at Pop's Diner to sell him some pies!
That's Beer, not Bees.