Day 24 of Noirvember: Stella in Fallen Angel (1945)

Today’s Noirvember post shines the spotlight on Stella in Fallen Angel (1945).

Linda Darnell eyes.

WHAT’S FALLEN ANGEL ABOUT?

Cynical, down-on-his-luck press agent Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) finds himself in a small town in California (because he didn’t have the bus fare to make it to San Francisco), and he promptly becomes involved with sultry waitress Stella (Linda Darnell) and wealthy local girl June (Alice Faye). Despite Stella’s obvious materialism, Eric cooks up a scheme to marry June for her money, then quickly divorce her in order to wed Stella. But this is film noir, so you can bet that things don’t turn out as planned.

INTRODUCING STELLA:

We encounter Stella at the same time that Eric does, inside Pop’s, the diner where she works as a waitress. But when Eric first enters the joint, Stella’s not there. It becomes apparent from the conversation taking place between Pop (Percy Kilbride), retired cop Mark Judd (Charles Bickford), and a local trooper, that Stella has been missing for three days. The men speculate on what could have happened to Stella – Pop insists that she’s a “good girl,” and wonders if she could have committed suicide. Judd, experienced with years of police work in New York, states with certainty that Stella didn’t kill herself. “Stella’s not the type,” he says.

Meeting Stella.

A few minutes later, the door to the diner opens, and in walks Stella. Her face, her entire body, reflect a state of weariness – she looks as if she’d been someplace with promise, and is returning in defeat. Without a word, she sinks into the nearest chair, removes her shoes, and starts rubbing her feet. Judd is the first to speak to her, crossing the room to tell her he knew she’d be back. She shoots him a look that’s tinged with disdain. “Okay,” she says flatly. “I’m back.”

WHY DID I PICK STELLA?

She is absolutely mesmerizing. Every time she’s on screen, you’re hanging on her every word, her every movement. She’s self-centered and shallow, with an inclination toward bitchery. She’s dazzling and sexy, and a little bit hard – hardly the “good girl” that Pop believes her to be. But she’s also nothing if not determined. She knows what she wants – a ring and a home – and she’s not settling for anything less.

FROM THE MOUTH OF STELLA:

“You talk different, sure. But you drive just like the rest. Well, you’ve got the wrong girl.”

PLAYED BY LINDA DARNELL:

Linda was born Monetta Eloyse Darnell on October 16, 1923, in Dallas, Texas. Her beauty was apparent from an early age and, driven by an over-ambitious mother, she was getting modeling jobs and competing in beauty pageants by the time she was 13 years old, always appearing to be older than she actually was. When she was 14, her mother secured an audition with a visiting 20th Century Fox talent scout, and Monetta and her family traveled to Hollywood. But this wouldn’t prove to be her big break; when studio head Darryl Zanuck found out the girl’s real age, he sent her packing. Monetta returned to Hollywood the following year, and this time she wound up with a contract from 20th Century Fox, was cast in her film debut, Hotel for Women (1939), and changed her name to Linda. She entered the world of noir with Fallen Angel.

Join me in the shadows tomorrow for Day 25 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 24, 2021.

8 Responses to “Day 24 of Noirvember: Stella in Fallen Angel (1945)”

  1. You might check out Blackbeard(1953?)-Linda, Newton, Anders, Bendix and Irene Ryan. Lots of good fun.

    Em qua, 24 de nov de 2021 12:21, shadowsandsatin escreveu:

    > shadowsandsatin posted: ” Today’s Noirvember post shines the spotlight on > Stella in Fallen Angel (1945). Linda Darnell eyes. WHAT’S FALLEN ANGEL > ABOUT? Cynical, down-on-his-luck press agent Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) > finds himself in a small town in California (because ” >

  2. As an actress, she possessed a versatility that is too often overlooked. Fallen Angel and This Is My Love feature Linda at her noirish best.

  3. I know Stella has a reputation, but I still find it hard to believe the gorgeous Linda Darnell couldn’t get anyone to marry her!

  4. Darnell is solid, and lovely in Fallen Angel, but she has too little in Dana Andrews to play off of. Andrews was not one of mainstream Hollywood’s best, tending to grunt and mumble through too much of his dialogue to create strong characters—and Darnell is at her best when she’s got a strong actor to work with.

    Anyone who hasn’t seen her in No Way Out (1950), usually remembered for being Sidney Poitier’s first starring role, is missing a great performance. Stephen McNally has a central role as the mediating head of a county hospital, and Darnell is relentlessly manipulated by Richard Widmark’s racist Ray Biddle. It’s more Darnell’s film than it is Poitier’s, and if you’ve skipped this expecting a dry, genteel, liberal look at racism in the U.S. at the middle of the century, skip no more. It’s probably not a great film, but it’s a damned good one.

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