© 1945 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Fallen Angel (1945)

After the surprise success of Otto Preminger’s film noir Laura in 1944, 20th Century Fox was eager to repeat the box office draw with another Preminger noir. Fallen Angel has the same male lead, Dana Andrews, and, perhaps more importantly, the same cinematographer, Joseph LaShelle, but it lacks Gene Tierney, who played the haunting title character in Laura. In fact, the one weakness of Fallen Angel may be that it has too many female characters, rather than the one central one that made Laura such a memorable film. Dana Andrews plays a stranger in town who, like everyone else in the highway-side hamlet, falls in love with the waitress Stella (Linda Darnell), but then marries June (Alice Faye) for her money, against the protests of her sister Clara (Anne Revere). Although Alice Faye got top billing, the Stella role is much more central to the theme of obsession. Evidently, Alice Faye’s role got smaller and smaller during filming and editing, and she was furious when she saw the final product. Darnell is decent as Stella, but I couldn’t help thinking the role could have been first written better, and then played a little better, by say Rita Hayworth.

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