At her engagement party, Joan Ellis, your typical girl next door, acknowledges that the strange voice that she's heard all her life is coming from within herself. Joan's alter ego, a conniving and murderous woman named Karen, is becoming stronger and stronger and is threatening to take over her life. Joan negotiates with Karen. Although they do come to an agreement, Karen reneges on that agreement when the situation suits her. Karen ultimately wants the men in Joan's life, first her fiancé, Bob Arnold, then Eric Russell, a lawyer Joan meets in New York City. Joan does whatever she needs to to get rid of Karen, even if it a threat to her own life. Without knowing for certain what is wrong with Joan, those close to her, including Eric and Dr. Bergson, do whatever they can to save her. Written by
Multiple Personality Disorder is fine, but pick the right personality
Wholesome gal Phyllis Thaxter lives with her upper-middle-class parents and plans to wed soon. But she's beginning to cause some concern; she's prone to odd fainting spells blackouts, really and to wandering the deserted streets of her midwestern city at night. Scant wonder, because living inside her, and clawing to get out, is Audrey Totter! Totter, in fact, gives perhaps the most chilling voice-of-the-demon performance until Mercedes McCambridge gave us Pazuzu in The Exorcist.
Capitalizing on the heightened interest in abnormal psychology spurred by the return of shell-shocked veterans, Bewitched latches onto a tabloid-worthy subject multiple personality disorder. It's noteworthy in doing so a dozen years before both Lizzie and The Three Faces of Eve, in which, respectively, Eleanor Parker and Joanne Woodward (who nabbed the Oscar) displayed similar symptoms. Footnotes in medical journals probably do not cite any of these movies, so facile is their treatment of a troubling and controversial syndrome.
Thaxter tries a geographical cure, fleeing to New York where she falls in love with a lawyer (Stephen McNally). But when her old fiancé tracks her down, Totter, who apparently wasn't left behind, emerges to kill him with a pair of scissors. Then comes a stylized courtroom fantasy lifted all but intact from Boris Ingster's Stranger On The Third Floor, followed by a real murder trial. Wise old psychiatrist Edmund Gwynne explains everything to us, along with the Governor and his wife, and then proceeds to exorcize Totter (who, by the way, calls herself Karen).
Apart from Thaxter's nocturnal excursion, there's little original or striking about the movie. That we see the good girl but only hear the bad one is a big part of the problem. The extra energy that might have come from seeing Karen in action for that matter, from casting Totter on-screen gets thrown away. They picked the wrong personality.
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