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Naval commander Charles Sturm has made life miserable for his wife Diana due to his insane jealousy over every man she speaks to. His obsessive behavior soon drives her to the arms of a handsome lieutenant. When Charles learns of their affair, he plots revenge. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Tallulah Bankhead takes charge in intense melodrama
Paramount, at the height of its sophistication in the early 30's, could recycle its sets from MOROCCO and fashion a stylish production out of a passable triangle melodrama. Unfulfilled wife Tallulah Bankhead --frustrated at home, humiliated in front of her social set by her pathologically jealous husband -- stumbles into an Arab marketplace crowded with whirling dervishes, and into the arms of Gary Cooper for a romantic liaison under the desert stars. Conflicts ensue, of course, and then all three find themselves on a crippled submarine.
Viewers who know Tallulah Bankhead only from her caricatured role in LIFEBOAT will be startled by her intensity and bruised glamour: slouching in Travis Banton gowns, she looks sometimes like Garbo, sometimes like "Margo Channing". Meanwhile, she gives a crash course in how to hold a melodrama together, commanding every scene, inflecting every line with subtle nuances. When she must deal with menacing Charles Laughton, the air between them vibrates with tension. Laughton [billed as "the eminent English character actor"] does his share as well, but he seems mannered in a familiar way, a dry run for his Captain Bligh.
Only the radiant young Cary Grant in a dazzling naval uniform steals attention from the leading lady in a brief appearance. Gary Cooper, though persuasive as the romantic hero, soon gets submerged in a disappointingly shallow character.
The eye is seduced by cameraman Charles Lang's repertoire of shadows, the heart is stirred by a star performance, but in the end the head may resist: the terse dialogue tries for Hemingway but remains stubbornly pedestrian and remarkably humorless: the script owes its sole laugh to Bankhead's line reading while buying a billiard cue. The devil is in the dialogue!
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