Fallen Angel ★★★½

Preminger and Andrews reunite after Laura and produce something that is solid and lays the groundwork for a lot of noir character types but never quite convinces. Possibly because in 1945 the lust at the heart of the story, the driving force for most of the characters in one way or another just can't quite be foregrounded in the way the story needs.

Linda Darnell is certainly stunning, and she gets across both her characters greed and the effect she has on every other character in the story, an effect that means that when it becomes a whodunnit we aren't short of suspects. But you can't quite get into Alice Faye's motivation in falling for a man she knows is conning her in the same way. Yes the movie does a good job of showing her cooped up repression and how Andrews pokes holes in it but the movie can't quite be honest enough about any of the relationships to make this a lasting convincing work.

The supporting cast is great, Charles Bickford and John carradine especially as well as Percy Kilbride's doting diner owner and Dana Andrews actually does good work. The dialogue is decent and Preminger can certainly direct the hell out of this kind of thing but noir needs to take a peculiarly stylised route around the Hayes Code when it's dealing with a story this base and mired in lust and greed and it just narrowly fails to sell it for me even if you can kind of see this movie creating a bunch of archetypes.

Glad I saw it, its probably one of the biggest name Noirs I hadn't seen prior to Noir-november and there's a lot to like, the whodunnit is convincing and Darnell does occasionally cross the line into full on amoral sexpot that the movie needs but it falls just short of greatness.