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Joseph H. Lewis
Dame May Whitty,
Leslie Calvin, the sole survivor of a submarine accident, goes to her relatives in order to recover emotionally. Unfortunately she encounters various scam artists led by Mr. Sydney who intend to kill her and steal the family assets. Dr. George Grover helps Leslie to defeat Sydney. Written by
Sam Goldberg <email@example.com>
As Leslie Calvin enters the front porch area, Cleeve empties his pipe and places it in the breast pocket of his jacket with the bowl of the pipe protruding above the pocket line. Later on the tour of the plantation as Mr. Sydney passes by Cleeve the pipe is gone but in the next shot just seconds after Mr. Sydney has walked a few steps away, the pipe is again clearly visible. See more »
Great atmosphere, great performance from Oberon and a nice bit of playing against type from Mitchell
Leslie Calvin is the sole survivor of a submarine sinking and, having seen other survivors die before they could be saved, her mental health has suffered and it is only the help of Dr George Grover that sees her making progress. To aid her recovery she heads out to see her relatives on their plantation but is bothered when nobody is there to collect her. Arriving at the home she meets her aunt, uncle and extended family for the first time and tries to settle in. However a series of mental triggers set Leslie's recovery back and it almost seems that her family are deliberately being insensitive.
With very few votes on this site, I decided to watch this film on the basis that very few people have seen it. Unsure of the plot I braced myself for a bland melodrama when the film opened with a hysterical Leslie but I was pleasantly surprised when the film became something much darker and more interesting. I can't go into more detail without spoiling it for you, but the plot sees a group of people trying to drive Leslie deeper into her madness; on this level it maybe doesn't work quite as well as it should have done because the plot does have holes in it but these are not that much of an issue because it does manage to do a lot of other things well enough to cover the gaps and carry the film.
The first of these is the atmosphere, created by lighting, cinematography and direction. It is as close as a real swamp and has a genuine air of tension and creepiness to it throughout. The material is a lot darker than I had expected and, once the real hearts of the characters are revealed I was quite taken by the quite moral void they seemed to inhabit. Of course without the actors this wouldn't work as well as it did but a mix of good performances and clever casting means it was pretty good. Oberon is excellent in the lead role and is convincing in the way in which she seems unsure of her own sanity while also being genuinely afraid of things around her (or herself?). Beside her Tone is far too bland and is much of a muchness but does meet the requirements on him well enough. Mitchell is a great bit of casting; much more famous for warmer, comic roles, he seems to relish the character and does well for the majority before excelling at the end. Cook Jr is as good as he often can be and plays "naïve/unhinged sidekick" pretty well. The rest of the cast are all strong enough but for me the film is worth seeing for the from Oberon and Mitchell.
Overall this is a very enjoyable little film that trades a lot on its atmosphere and main performances. The story is interesting even if it does have basic holes in it and dealing with logic problems by just ignoring them but for the reasons above I think this is well worth a wet weekend's viewing.
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