Fallen Angel (1945)/Raksin
August 22, 2013
In all of the years that I’ve been watching movies which has now reached well over fifty years I’ve yet to come up with a definition for film noir that establishes a concrete set of attributes that one can categorize them as being such a film. What has happened to me as a critic is I’ve established my own list of things that a film noir film must have which can be entirely different from what you think. As a result it is something that if for example you feel that Where the Sidewalk Ends, Laura, Daisy Kenyon, and Whirlpool is noir then it is. I don’t think they are and would consider them to be more of in the melodrama category On the other hand; Fallen Angel does fit the requirements. The key ingredients for me seem to be the low key lighting (German expressionist) along with the femme fatale that double crosses and provides the sexual motivations for the film.
Kritzerland (20026-2) presents the above mentioned five films in a two CD package featuring music from David Raksin, Alfred Newman, and Cyril Mockridge. Thanks to Bruce Kimmel several of Raksin’s soundtracks have been made available for the first time. While Raksin was not considered to be one of the ‘A’ composers his contribution to Hollywood films was priceless.
Raksin fresh from his major success Laura approached the score to Fallen Angel (1945) with two strong melodies that easily make this a real gem. Starring Dana Andrews, Charles Bickford, Linda Darnell, and Alice Faye is a tale of a drifter who marries for money but is attracted to another waitress creating the triangle. When his wife mysteriously disappears he investigates to find the killer, making all the ingredients for a nifty noir film. Alice Faye was married to the comic Phil Harris and was mostly known as a song and dance girl. This dramatic role showed her versatility. “Cross Country Blues,” the main title, is introduced as a hurried Gershwin like orchestration depicting a frantic pace giving off a feeling of motion. This is a theme that is also used in “Eric” in a tragic way, “Andrews Blues” in an arrangement that you might hear in a bar. There are selected piano bars along with muted trumpet and tenor sax being featured. “Fallen Angel” is a tragic version of the main title while “Eric, Stella, and June” nicely combines the main title with the love theme “Slowly,” which is featured on 4 selections. It is sung by Alice Faye and Dick Haymes, the ultimate crooner as well as 2 instrumentals both using the trombone in place of the lyrics. The first one, track 6 is exactly the same time as the first vocal. It is a direct substitution by the mellow trombone for the lyrics. There are two underscore tracks “Séance” a silent movie like sound and “June,” a fugue like offering from the organ. “Fallen Angel” is a tragic version of the main title.
While this soundtrack doesn’t have that hard bite and gritty sound of a Rozsa score for the period the material a little on the schmaltzy at times is quite effective for the film. This is just one of 5 films offered in the 1000 limited edition release. The offering is a nice clean mono recording with the exception of a slight volume increase at the 35 second point on the first track. I only noticed it because I had it on too loud to begin with and the volume increase became neighbor disturbing. Golden Age material is not for everyone but if you enjoy the 40’s music you’ll go for this one.
1… Cross Country Bus (1:25)
2… Eric (1:00)
3… Slowly (Alice Faye) (2:08)
4… Andrews Blues (2:40)
5… Séance (1:44)
6… Slowly (instrumental) (2:08)
7… June (1:05)
8… Slowly (instrumental #2) (1:53)
9… Eric, Stella, and June (3:05)
10. Fallen Angel (3:10)
11. Slowly (Dick Haymes) (3:53)