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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 »
De Toth fails to elevate Dark Waters above standard Gothic `jep'
The imperiled woman in a great spooky house remains one of Hollywood's most honorable of hackneyed plots. These `jeps' ask us to accept that a woman, usually young, beautiful and sophisticated, sinks deeper into danger despite all the warning signals blinking around her. Still, a few directors have managed to elevate the material a notch or two above the predictable: Jacques Tourneur in Experiment Perilous, Fritz Lang in House by the River, Douglas Sirk in Sleep, My Love. Any hopes that Andre de Toth (The Pitfall, Crime Wave) might work the same black magic crumble, however, with his early Gothic noir, Dark Waters.
Merle Oberon a classic Eurasian beauty but never much of an actor is the survivor of a ship torpedoed by the Japanese in the East Indies (the ship set out from what the movie calls Batavia but we know as Jakarta). Somehow, she ends up in New Orleans, where an aunt and uncle keep a moldering plantation in nearby bayou country. She arrives there, under the care of a doctor (Franchot Tone; has it ever been remarked that he and Ralph Bellamy share the same set of vocal cords?). But, upon her arrival, we start to suspect , long before she, that ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS.
The aunt (Fay Bainter) and uncle extend her a back-handed welcome but seem preoccupied; they also seem to get pieces of the family history wrong. In addition, they're under the thumb of their plantation manager (Thomas Mitchell, who of course got his start running Tara) and his weasly assistant, Elisha Cook, Jr. (who does his expected shtik; did he never weary of playing this dumb but cocky chump?).
The story advances neither swiftly nor arrestingly. Attempts to `gaslight' Oberon amount to a bedside lamp that switches off then on again, and distant voices beckoning her to the quicksand which studs the surrounding swampland. Slowly, the light begins to dawn behind Oberon's big, perfectly made-up eyes...
And that's just about all there is to Dark Waters hot spells and Spanish moss. De Toth, who was able to peer deep into the background of middle-class complacency in The Pitfall, a few years later, seems to have taken a case of the vapors amid all this languid Louisiana atmosphere. All he comes up with is this slow, flaccid film.
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