Angel Face (1952)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Jean Simmons' fascinating interpretation of an uncharacteristic role is the main drawing card of Otto Preminger's Angel Face. The daughter of Charles Treymayne (Herbert Marshall), who remarried a wealthy woman (Barbara O'Neil), Diane Treymayne's (Simmons) angelic countenance masks an unbridled psychotic who'll let nothing stand in the way of her happiness. Diane arranges for Catherine's death, making it look like an auto accident. Coveting family chauffeur Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum), Diane steals Frank away from his sweetheart Mary (Mona Freeman) and forces him to become her spiritual accomplice in her stepmother's murder. And when Diane finally realizes that she'll never, ever, be able to hold Frank, she... well, enough said. If Angel Face doesn't look like a typical early-1950s RKO Radio film, it may be because its director was borrowed from 20th Century-Fox, and its cinematographer (Harry Stradling) was a loan-out from Sam Goldwyn.
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
RKO Radio Pictures


Jean Simmons
as Diane Tremayne Jessup
Robert Mitchum
as Frank Jessup
Mona Freeman
as Mary Wilton
Herbert Marshall
as Mr. Charles Tremayne
Leon Ames
as Fred Barrett
Barbara O'Neil
as Mrs. Catherine Tremayne
Kenneth Tobey
as Bill Crompton
Raymond Greenleaf
as Arthur Vance
Griff Barnett
as The judge
Robert Gist
as Miller
Jim Backus
as DA Judson
Bess Flowers
as Barrett's Secretary
Alex Gerry
as Lewis, Frank's Attorney
Frank Kumagai
as Satsuma
Lucille Barkley
as Waitress
Lewis Martin
as Police Sergeant
Michael Lally
as Reporter
Young Buck
as Assistant District Attorney
Bob Peoples
as Reporter
Jeffrey Sayre
as Court Clerk
James Brick Sullivan
as Deputy Sheriff
Grandon Rhodes
as Prison Chaplain
Cora Shannon
as Patient
Theresa Harris
as Nurse Theresa
John Ellis
as Jury Foreman
Charmienne Harker
as Secretary
Pete Kellett
as Detective
Ralph Volkie
as Good Humor Man
Charles Tannen
as TV Broadcaster
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Critic Reviews for Angel Face

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3)

A capable cast, headed by Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum, and a nice, taut story idea have been set adrift in a pretentious Freudian mist that wafts through the handsomely mounted proceedings with disastrous results.

Full Review… | August 7, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Superb Freudian crime thriller, noir-inflected in theme but shot by and large in crisp, bright drawing-rooms.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The sets, characters, and actions are extremely stylized, yet Preminger's moving camera gives them a frightening unity and fluidity, tracing a straight, clean line to a cliff top for one of the most audacious endings in film history.

Full Review… | March 31, 2003
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Preminger transforms a second rate James M. Cain murder plot, re-orchestrating this textbook tale of passion and murder into a haunting and haunted refrain

Full Review… | March 16, 2009

For all of its unbelievability, Angel Face is consistently suspenseful under Preminger's sure direction. In short, you're never sure what that crazy woman will do next.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
TV Guide

One of the best yet still underestimated film noir, boasting gloriously detailed mise-en-scene from Otto Preminger and a revelatory performance by the cast-against- type Jean Simmons as a murderess femme fatale.

Full Review… | April 6, 2007

Audience Reviews for Angel Face

one of the best classic movies i have seen. jean simmons is gorgeous and seductive and does a great job of keeping you guessing. This film is full of surprises that keeps your guessing until the shocking conclusion. Its rare to see a movie that really surprises you especially one that is 60 years old.

Alex Wolf Rkc
Alex Wolf Rkc

An ordinary man gets mixed up with a dangerous girl. Not anything new, but it's a good movie with good actors.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Robert Mitchum plays Frank, an ambulance driver with dreams of opening a sports car repair shop. He has a very pretty girlfriend (Mona Freeman) that he treats very casually, especially when he meets other hot dames. One night, on a call at a ritzy mansion, he discovers what is obviously a plot by a wealthy socialite to kill her stepmother. However, he's a little bit intrigued by the socialite (Jean Simmons), and she seems more than a little interested in her, so he takes her out. Soon, Frank's life is filled with promises of money and it seems as though his dreams will all come true, if only he can turn the other way for a little while. Director Otto Preminger uses the Hays code to his advantage as the twists and turns of this crime drama unfold. While Mitchum isn't exactly oozing charisma (and Simmons' socialite perhaps oozes too much), the end result is something entirely fascinating to watch. Is Mona Freeman's no-nonsense character a proto-feminist? She sees Simmons' little plots and ploys very early on, and has the nerve to call her out on them. I also think the courtroom scenes deserve a lot credit. I enjoyed the interplay between the two lawyers, and Leon Ames breaks ground he'd later revisit in The Postman Always Rings Twice (as an exceedingly clever lawyer). A great example of the genre from the 1950s.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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