Starring: Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, Mona Freeman
Director: Otto Preminger
Running Time: 87 mins
Angel Face is an American film about a man who falls in love with a seductive young woman, who captures him and uses him in her murderous schemes.
This is one of those films that should have a striking air of mystery, unease, fear and suspense. It’s not a horror, but a deceptive drama, yet Angel Face really falls short in that department. Despite a pair of captivating lead performances, the film is far from the suspenseful thriller it aims to be, often languishing frustratingly with a messily-paced story.
Compared with other classics tales of entrapment and deceit like Double Indemnity and Diabolique, there’s something about Angel Face that feels strangely unspectacular. Not only is it a little too slow and poorly structured, but it also lacks a sleek, striking atmosphere.
That means that at even the film’s most interesting points, Angel Face feels a little underwhelming. It doesn’t snowball with a sense of confusion and frenzy as the mystery and intricacy of the story builds, and that leaves it feeling rather monotonous.
Couple that with visuals that are equally unspectacular – especially compared with some of the exhilarating filming techniques popular in film-noir at the time – and there really isn’t much to keep you on tenterhooks through the whole movie.
As a simple, easy-going thriller, Angel Face strikes up some nice details and enjoyably mysterious intricacies, but it’s never actually that thrilling, or even dramatically engrossing.
Leads Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons do have a nice chemistry between them, a sort of mismatched suitability for one another that makes their doomed relationship fully convincing. But Mitchum is never quite as on the ropes as he should be, and Simmons isn’t as devastating a femme fatale as the story perhaps calls for.
Overall, Angel Face isn’t a particularly memorable thriller. It certainly has its moments, and its story is full of the same potential of other classics to deliver gripping, tense drama. But with a disappointing plot, unspectacular visuals and a lack of an uneasy, frenetic and suspenseful atmosphere, it’s far from a masterpiece, and that’s why I’m giving it 6.7.