I am of an age when I came to know Vincent Price as the creepy voice who narrated Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” I knew who he was before that – I knew he was a guy who starred in a bunch of old horror movies – but I had never seen any of those movies. As an adult, I’ve watched tons of those old horror movies. He, along with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, were staples in the Hammer Studios horror stable and I love them all.
Of course, Vincent Price wasn’t just a hammy horror actor, he made lots of other films. But it always surprises me when he does. He plays it completely straight in Laura, one of the great film noirs. He’s good in it, too, but it is hard not to watch the film and not expect him to start killing people.
Anyway, you can read my review here.
Laura the Otto Preminger film from 1944 is one of the all-time classic film noirs. It was a huge success upon its release and remains one of the genre’s most beloved films. Preminger followed it up with another noir, Fallen Angel, which also stars Dana Andrews. Here, he’s no longer a detective trying to solve a murder, but a drifter, a conman who gets into trouble he may not be able to get himself out of.
His name is Eric Stanton and he drifts into a small town called Walton because he doesn’t have the bus fare to make it to San Francisco and the driver kicks him off at the first stop once he learns Stanton doesn’t have a ticket. There he meets Stella (Linda Darnell) a beautiful, sultry waitress and like any good film noir sap, he falls immediately in love. But like any good dame in a film noir she won’t have him until he’s got some money. He figures he can get it from June (Alice Faye) a pretty, but reserved woman who hasn’t had much luck in love, but does have a lot of money.
Stanton figures she’s an easy mark. He can get lovey-dovey with her, score some cash out of her fat wallet then drop her and head back over to Stella. Naturally, things don’t go as planned and he finds himself on the run from the cops as a murder suspect.
The plot is just as complicated as Laura, but it isn’t nearly as compelling. Linda Darnell is the standout. She is radiant and mysterious. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get a ton of screen time and her character isn’t given much. Dana Andrews is fine. I love morally murky characters, especially men who think they have it all under control but are really quite clueless. Likewise, Alice Faye is perfectly acceptable but she’s missing that certain something to make this film truly great.
Well worth your time, but if you haven’t seen Laura grab that one instead.