Robert Mitchum plays Frank Jessup, a horndog who cheats on Mary (Mona Freeman) with great ease, & has a dream of owning his own race car garage one day, but drives ambulence in the meantime.
Bombshell Jean Simmons plays Diane Tremayne, the titular Angel Face (1953), the daughter a wealthy man of fading genius. She at first seems a naif, but immediately begins stalker behavior, calling up Frank's girl Mary (Mona Freeman) pretending to want an improbable friendship.
Frank agrees to take a job as Diane's family's chauffeur, moving into the garage apartment, hoping there honestly is a possibility that Diane's stepmother Catherine (Barbara O'Neil) will finance his auto racing garage dream.
Although he is aware that he's being manipulated by Diane, he is rather laid back about going along with her games. What he fails to realize in time is that her game is murder.
When the jealous & territorial Diane finally decides to kill her despised stepmom by twinking with the car, she had no idea her beloved father (Herbert Marshall) would be in the car too. And Frank has been framed by the innocent-acting femme fatale, as he's the one who works on cars.
They're both arrested & an aggressive attorney (Leon Ames) takes on the defense. Having accidently killed her dad though intending only to murder her stepmom, Diane wants to confess.
The attorney, however, counsels that Frank is apt to be found guilty even if Diane tries to take all the fault upon herself, as no one would ever believe she figured out how to sabotage the car alone. So she might as well stay quiet since it's either both of them or just him who'll serve time.
Some of the plot elements are very odd, including Frank getting involved with Diane in the first place, since he knows she's nuts. And he had a girl of obvious greater merit. The marriage imposed on Diane & Frank by their attorney also never quite made as much sense as the script tries to rush through.
The Perry Masonesque courtroom scenes are rather boring. It all picks up with the post-verdict events, which are maniacal. Diane is not a total femme fatale, because she's full of grief & repentance, & comes off more & more like a seriously troubled child. She might well have one surprising act left in her repertoir, however, to leave the audience agog.
If not for the boring courtroom middle of the picture, it might been a great film. It's at least in a category of its own with its peculiar slow-paced strangeness & with film noir cinematography of ocnsiderable beauty.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl