Last night Turner Classic Movies — it’s horrible, yet I can’t look away — ran the crappy so-called noir classic Angel Face (1953), starring Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum. Playing the titular character in a tight sweater, Jean Simmons, whose only motivation appears to be that she’s just a manipulative psycho bitch malignant narcissist femme fatale, becomes obsessed with Robert Mitchum, kills her father and not-particularly-evil step-mother by tampering with their car, beats the murder rap in a goofy trial sequence, and then kills herself and Mitchum by backing her two-seater off a cliff. As the camera lovingly follows the car crashing down the rocks, you get to see the stunt-double dummies flap around unconvincingly. This is the best part of the film.
I mention all this because during the trial scene, the district attorney, played by Thurston Howell the Third, questions an expert witness to determine the level of skill required to rig the death car.
“Could it have been done by anyone?” he asks, functioning as the vox populi. “Even a woman?”
That’s when my lobe blew, but don’t worry; I’m used to it by now.
Anyway, that’s why everybody loves mid-20th-century Hollywood noir films. They are so unapologetic about their blatant misogyny, so unencumbered by the annoying feminism that plagues the modern world. Back then, men were men and girls were
The female leads in noir films are always manipulative psycho bitch malignant narcissist femmes fatales. In one of the opening scenes of “Angel Face,” Robert Mitchum smacks Jean Simmons right in the face. She smacks him back, to demonstrate her psycho bitch attributes, but then, to restore the natural order, the script makes her apologize to Mitchum and act all grateful for the original slap. Also, Jean Simmons is obviously hurt by her slap, but Robert Mitchum doesn’t even flinch when Simmons pops him. Girl is weak, man is strong.
Once again I complain that, sure, it was 1953 then, but TCM is running this shit now, in 2011. Without any kind of accompanying critical analysis, it is difficult to see this as anything other than hate speech. The host, Robert Osborne, did make a few introductory remarks about “Angel Face.” He explained that Jean Simmons was wearing a wig in the movie because the producer didn’t like girls with short hair. Good to know, Osborne!
Photo: still from “Angel Face” trailer.