Dear Reader #12

Dear Reader,

Books sixteen, seventeen and eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series will be Snow in August, a story about childhood trauma; Looking For Rosanna Mee, a story about how the Powers That Be abuse vulnerable people; Stormy Weather, a story about climate change. The storyboarding of Snow in August is progressing well and I intend to finish it next week.

Another busy week with my translators with three books published, all in Spanish. We also started two new translations taking the total to forty-three books in ten languages.

This week, my Spanish Civil War research focused on Lily Margaret Powell, a remarkable woman, a true heroine who volunteered to nurse in Spain during the war and was the last International Brigades nurse to leave the conflict. You can read Margaret’s remarkable story here

Margaret Powell, second left, and her medical team in Spain

My film of the week is Fallen Angel, a noir movie made in 1945. The movie reunites director Otto Preminger with Dana Andrews, who had worked together on Laura the previous year. The movie also features Alice Faye, Linda Darnell and a host of fine character actors.

While the movie doesn’t quite touch the heights of Laura – few movies do – it’s still an excellent story. Like Laura, it’s a film of two halves. In Laura, the title character didn’t appear until the second half of the film while in Fallen Angel Linda Darnell dominates the first half with a sultry performance as the femme fatale and Alice Faye blossoms in the second half; Dana Andrews links the whole piece together.

Playing a bookish, reserved woman, Alice Faye had the toughest role – noir movies are basically designed around the femme fatale and Linda Darnell shone in this part. Initially, Fallen Angel was intended to showcase Alice Faye’s talents. However, many of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Some suggest that film producer Darryl F. Zanuck decided to use the film to promote Linda Darnell, his new protégé, instead of Alice Faye. Certainly, Alice Faye’s characterisation suffers from the cuts and she wasn’t pleased about it. Indeed, she retired from movies until 1962 when she made State Fair.

Alice Faye

In 1987, Alice Faye told an interviewer, “When I stopped making pictures, it didn’t bother me because there were so many things I hadn’t done. I had never learned to run a house. I didn’t know how to cook. I didn’t know how to shop. So all these things filled all those gaps.”

Linda Darnell

As a mystery author, usually I unravel a movie plot early on. And while I identified the murderer during the early scenes of Fallen Angel the movie is well crafted and until the closing scenes all the principal characters remain in the frame.

Dana Andrews

Fallen Angel is also worth watching for Alice Faye reciting the following poetic lines:

We are born to tread the Earth as angels 

to seek out Heaven this side of the sky.

But they who race alone shall stumble,

in the dark and fall from grace.

Then love alone can make the fallen angel rise,

for only two together can enter paradise.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

2 thoughts on “Dear Reader #12

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