It's clearly time to start brushing up on Angie Dickinson's career in anticipation of her on-stage appearance with the "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller at the upcoming 10th edition of Noir City where 35mm prints of two of Dickinson's finest—The Killers (1964) and Point Blank (1967)—will be screened at the world's most popular film noir festival. Where best to start than with David Thomson's entry in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, wherein he pointedly quips that one thousand words of analysis won't carry more weight than a well-chosen still. Good advice from an ardent admirer.
Thomson likewise wrote a piece on Angie for GQ magazine back in October 2005 profiling Dickinson's career, confirming once and for all that it isn't just Nicole Kidman he has a "thing" for. "It wasn't that I necessarily thought she was a great actress," Thomson writes in his GQ piece, "just my favorite. You see, I had this notion that, as the years went by and you saw most of the movies that came along, you could enjoy the difference between someone who was plainly a Great Actress and someone you were simply glad to see, a woman you thought of as a pal—always effective, a reliable doll." His overview ends up being, admittedly, "not an essay on celebrity, so much as a reflection on fondness and how it can last." Thomson concludes: "No, she wasn't the greatest actress ever, just my favorite—which means that for a certain kind of movie dream, in the role of a woman as brave as she is gorgeous, as smart as she is funny, I never saw anyone better." (GQ, October 2005, pp. 126-134.)
Of the two films screening at Noir City X, Thomson situates them within "a trio of terrific performances from the mid-Sixties", which includes The Chase (1966). Angie plays "the treacherous romantic lead in The Killers, a film where she is torn between John Cassavetes and Ronald Reagan, and in which Reagan slaps her in the face very hard." In the "extraordinary" Point Blank, Angie "is the ambivalent woman who elects to help Lee Marvin in his implacable attempt to recover $93,000 from the Mob. There are scenes in that film where she offers herself as bait to the villainous John Vernon that are hauntingly sexy. There's also a scene where she beats on the impassive Marvin and collapses in frustration as he hardly notices her."
Then, of course, there is—perhaps—the "definitive" overview: Sam Kashner's piece for Vanity Fair ("A Legend With Legs"). If that isn't enough for you, revisit Dennis Cozzalio's April 2006 Angie Dickinson blogathon at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.
But enough words. Time to follow Thomson's advice.