Angel Face (1952): Gothic Noir

Angel Face (1952)

A young psychopath with an Electra complex tries to murder her step-mother
(1952 RKO Directed by Otto Preminger 91 mins)

Angel Face is a dark and occasionally chilling gothic melodrama with Jean Simmons effectively cast against type as an ‘enfant-terrible’, and Robert Mitchum as her hapless object of desire and manipulation.  While well-made and with high production values, the film moves too slowly and Mitchum’s trademark laconic persona is a further drag on the action.  The final denouement though half-expected is still a shocker.  But on balance, Preminger’s sardonic detachment, which usually finds favor with film critics, makes the film look and feel one-dimensional.

An interesting costuming twist telegraphs the repression of forbidden sexual desire on the day a fatal plot is executed: the protagonist contrary to her usually modestly feminine attire on this day sports a very tight sweater and a waist-hugging belt.

Angel Face (1952)

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