**** out of 5
"Even when i was a kid I was always beaten up for something I didn't do."
Without having seen the film, this sounds like a typical title given to a noir film. But once you've watched it, the aptness of the title in its many shades of meaning will be striking. not only does it describe the moral state of both the lead female roles, one a church organist who falls for a cheap chiseler, the other a lower class gal who knows the game and how to play it, it also describes a central murder- when one of those women is killed- an angel who is literally fallen.
And the film itself is an unforgettable, first-rate classic noir, with some of the best noir pedigree in the genre: Otto Preminger directing, with outstanding performances by Dana Andrews, Alice Faye, Charles Bickford and Linda Darnell in the lead roles,and supporting performances by familiar faces like Bruce Cabot, John Carradine, Anne Revere and Percy Kilbride (a surprising performance that's miles from his Ma and Pa Kettle comedic bread-and-butter roles). The script is one of the best, with dialogue that goes beyond the one-liner cracks that most lesser noirs settled for; here, the dialogue's bitter wit builds one line upon the next in a way that progresses much more naturally, like real conversation, but is still written in a clever and entertaining manner.