Old friends Ward and Phillip both become smitten with Phillip's mother's attractive young secretary Stella. But Stella marries Phillip and stands by him as his behavior becomes more and ... See full summary »
Old friends Ward and Phillip both become smitten with Phillip's mother's attractive young secretary Stella. But Stella marries Phillip and stands by him as his behavior becomes more and more erratic and his jealousy of Ward increases. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
W.S. Van Dyke took over the direction of the movie from Robert B. Sinclair, who became ill shortly after shooting began. Van Dyke was in the Marines, but was granted a 14-day leave to finish the picture. Neither Sinclair nor Van Dyke was available for retakes, which were then directed by Richard Thorpe. See more »
The movie commences with a quote, "Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned", which it attributes to Milton. The quote is in fact from William Congreve's play The Mourning Bride. See more »
Harbinger of noir cycle more convincing psychologically than dramatically
A somber-hued melodrama whose psychology is more compelling than its dramaturgy, Rage in Heaven sounds many of the minor-key motifs and dark timbres that would shortly coalesce into the noir cycle. Its most striking aspect has to be its acceptance of its disturbed central character as a given, without attempting to supply a neat, reassuring `explanation.'
The story set in England, for no good reason opens with a teasing prelude at a French insane asylum. But soon, in London, we meet up with Robert Montgomery as he meets up with old chum George Sanders and whisks him off to the country house of Montgomery's widowed mother (Lucile Watson), who in ailing health has retained the services of a companion (Ingrid Bergman). Though Bergman and Sanders generate some electricity, when he departs she marries Montgomery. This proves ill-advised.
Montgomery, who reluctantly has taken charge of the family's steel works, shows himself to be not only incompetent, irrationally jealous and vindictive, but also self-loathing, desperately insecure, and (as it turns out, like his father) suicidal. He requires unquestioned obedience, even at the risk of running his business into the ground or poisoning his marriage. He lures back Sanders in order to validate his suspicions of an affair between his wife and his best friend but, when no evidence emerges, devises a fiendish plot to ruin all their lives. His plans almost succeed, but for an eleventh-hour deus ex machina, in the person of the head of that sanitarium in the outskirts of Paris.
Though somewhat cleverly contrived, the ending remains a contrivance yet doesn't quite invalidate the movie's dark vision (perhaps owing more to Christopher Isherwood, who wrote the screenplay, than to James Hilton's novel). Montgomery elects to play a charming villain, as he did in Night Must Fall, perhaps unsure of just how to depict a deranged psyche (he wasn't far off the mark). Sanders gets wasted as a square-rigger, which was never his long suit.
That leaves the radiant Bergman, two years before Casablanca assured her stardom, handed the thankless world of the loyal, longanimous wifey. In this flawed but unsettling and precocious melodrama, it's she who utters the final benediction. That benediction lingers in the mind as an enlightened touch and a far cry from the black/white mentality of today's thrillers, which view psychological aberration as just a more heinous kind of evil, and so a further justification for triumphantly exterminating the evildoers.
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