Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Angel Face


It sometimes seems to me that every B&W movie made between about 1938 and 1958 that wasn’t a comedy, musical, western, or war story is classified as film noir by somebody. This is one, but my definition is a little stricter. I think a noir film should have some connection with sleaziness, the streets, the underworld, the underclass. Here, we have a working-class guy caught up in a reluctant romance with an heiress. Sure, the plot is dark, the woman is obsessed, and Robert Mitchum with his sleepy eyes almost makes a movie noir just by showing up. But he’s not real smart here, being manipulated by Jean Simmons, playing against type as a very evil woman … or at least a very crazy one. He wants to make and repair and drive race cars, and she has a Jaguar XK roadster and the money he would need to open his own racing shop. He’s a philanderer with a sweet girlfriend (Mona Freeman) who immediately sees through the rich girl’s schemes. It’s all nicely done, with a good courtroom scene. The heartbreaking thing was to see that Jag driven off a cliff. Ouch!