December 9, 1945 [Fallen Angel]

Fallen Angel follows Otto Preminger’s Laura with its tail tucked between its legs--afraid of the cramped spaces it has to pass through, the light outside failing. Everyone in the picture seems half-frozen--but filled with an enervating tension, waiting to bust free of whatever holds them: Alice Faye playing the organ at church but pointedly not saying “Amen” at the end of prayers at home; Charles Bickford’s sullen cop, sitting every night at Pop’s and downing too much coffee--and Pop himself, pining for his counter-girl, Linda Darnell--and then there's her boyfriends: the guy who takes care of the jukebox and lets the cop knock him around, and most of all Dana Andrews, kicked off the bus with a dollar in his pocket and his eyes wide open--except, like all of the sad boys at Pop’s, they look too much at Darnell’s Stella, her cheeks as round as the rest of her--like a Kewpie doll with a tired sneer and half-hearted promise.

And then Stella dies, disappearing like Lear’s Fool, setting the final slow wheels in motion, a machine of yearning and weary lies and dogged lust--with love somehow in the midst of it, Alice Faye and Andrews, flightless birds of a feather (Andrews at one point, standing in his hotel room, closes his window on the Sunday church-bells), in on the con they’re pulling on each other. It’s nice when a couple shares a common interest, even if it’s just exhaustion.


Popular Posts