Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons in Angel Face (1952)

Simmons is an Ambulance Chaser

When ambulance driver Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum) attends a call out he finds Mrs. Catherine Tremayne (Barbara O'Neil) in her bed recovering from gas poisoning, a suspected suicide attempt despite her claims that someone tried to kill her. But it is there that he meets her step-daughter Diane (Jean Simmons) who takes a shine to Frank and persuades him to quit his job and come and be their live in chauffeur. But Frank becomes suspicious of Diane who is becoming obsessed with him and after an accident causes the death of Catherine and Diane's father Charles (Herbert Marshall) he decides he needs to leave but Diane is not letting him go anywhere.

I don't know what it is but I just don't get what is so great about film-noir, for some reason these movies which seem to be loved by many and rated highly rarely seem to float my boat. Don't get me wrong as each to their own and I am sure the movies which I rate highly probably won't impress film-noir fans but I say this to put my review of "Angel Face" in to context.

Mona Freeman in Angel Face (1952)

Now "Angel Face" has plenty going for it from being directed by Otto Preminger to starring Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons. Yet despite having these things going for it "Angel Face" doesn't do it for me and I put it down to being so obvious especially for anyone who has watched other film-noirs.

The trouble is the opening as Frank attends the Tremayne mansion and whilst upstairs we having Catherine in bed recovering from being gassed and her husband concerned we then have down stairs Diane playing piano. I'm sure a step-daughter even one as we learn has no love for her step-mother would be concerned and so right away we can guess that Diane had some involvement in her gassing. Not only that we have Frank a guy who despite having a steady girl is instantly attracted to Diane, if that doesn't scream out puppet with Diane being the manipulator I don't know what does.

In fairness "Angel Face" is nicely shot and Jean Simmons is sexy and dangerous as Diane which makes it easy to get into. Plus it toys with you when it comes to the ending, making you think you have reached the climax only to then shock you with a further ending. In fact it shocks you when it comes to the darker side of the movie and the deaths. But still the set up is far too obvious and for a while it becomes procedural as you know what is going on before it even commits to it.

What this all boils down to is that "Angel Face" has a good cast and is nicely shot and also manages to surprise you when it comes to the climax. But sadly the familiarity of the characters and the set up makes it far too obvious too quickly and turns it into for a time a procedural drama.