Angel Face, directed by Otto Preminger in 1953, is a psychological thriller that continues to captivate audiences with its timeless themes of obsession, manipulation, and the blurred lines between good and evil. The film has recently been released on Blu-ray by Warner Archive, offering a fresh opportunity for viewers to experience this classic tale in high definition. Let’s talk about it a bit further.
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Let’s talk end of era RKO movies
Angel Face was released in the midst of the Hollywood Golden Age, a time when the industry was producing some of its most iconic and enduring films. The film’s production was notable for its collaboration between legendary director Otto Preminger and actress Jean Simmons, who was gearing up the major part of her career. Simmons’ performance as the manipulative and dangerous Diane Tremayne is widely regarded as one of her best, and her chemistry with lead actor Robert Mitchum is electric.
Tell me more about Angel Face
The 1953 film noir Angel Face marked an unexpected detour into chilling psychological drama for director Otto Preminger. Though best known for issue-driven films like Anatomy of a Murder and The Man with the Golden Arm, Preminger proved his versatility by crafting one of the era’s most haunting and confounding noirs.
The script by Frank Nugent and Oscar Millard centers on ambulance driver Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum) who becomes entangled with the seductive yet unstable Diane Tremayne (Jean Simmons). When Diane’s parents die under suspicious circumstances, her obsessive manipulation of Frank leads to a relationship built on deceit and peril.
Preminger maximizes the oppressive dread as Diane’s unhinged psyche unravels. Mitchum brings his typical world-weariness to Frank, while Simmons taps into chilling darkness as the dangerous Diane. Supporting players like Herbert Marshall and Barbara O’Neil round out the cast.
Check out those stunning visuals
Stark cinematography by Harry Stradling visually encapsulates the troubled leads’ tortured dynamic. The ending provides a final twist that haunts long after the credits roll. Angel Face stands as one of Preminger’s most stylishly mounted and daringly character-driven films.
Angel Face‘s central story of deception and murder perpetrated by the quintessential femme fatale Diane proved shocking upon its 1953 release. Audiences and critics alike found the plot confounding in its inverted power dynamic.
Seeing the seemingly wholesome young woman Diane manipulate the older Frank drew gasps. Even Mitchum’s cynical character fails to see through her web of lies until it is too late. This narrative risk paid off, making Angel Face a standout in Preminger’s filmography.
While some may have misunderstood its unconventional approach, Angel Face gradually became regarded as a benchmark noir with a wholly original feel. Its unsettling tone and haunted lead performances create an experience whose power resonates decades later.
Warner Archive has made a stunning Angel Face Blu-ray
The Warner Archive Blu-ray provides a pristine showcase of Angel Face‘s shadowy noir visuals. Preminger’s striking compositions and Mitchum and Simmons’ tortured faces are apparent in rich detail.
The 1080p transfer preserves the contrasts between light and dark. The uncompressed stereo soundtrack has excellent presence. The lone extra is the Eddie Muller commentary, but the stellar presentation is paramount for this criminally underseen classic.
If you follow TCM any, then Muller will be a familiar voice. However, I feel like Angel Face deserved a little more.