Anne Parkson feels neglected by her lawyer-husband Ted, so she falls in love with night-club owner Tony Arnello, a shady character who is a client of her husband's. This being a MGM picture... See full summary »
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Anne Parkson feels neglected by her lawyer-husband Ted, so she falls in love with night-club owner Tony Arnello, a shady character who is a client of her husband's. This being a MGM picture and MGM known to strive for General Audience ratings and avoid the dreaded Adult Audience tag, any affair that takes place is barely implied. Tony, a no-goodnik, kills Claire Lorrison, but Anne's compact is found near the body. Arnello threatens her with exposure unless she keeps quiet, as she is the only one who knows he is guilty. This being an Arch Oboler film, it is also filled with lots of "stream of consciousness" techniques in which the audience is able to share the thoughts of the central character. Oboler is highly praised in some quarters for bringing this from his radio programs where, of course, it was needed to let the radio audience know what was going on. In films, it comes off as just somebody talking to themselves. Gifford talks to herself a lot in this one, mainly about whether to... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
More romantic weeper than noir, Arnelo Affair bulges with lost opportunities
In The Arnelo Affair, the letter `A' keeps cropping up again and again - as a monogram on a dressing gown, a compact, a key. Ostensibly it signifies one of the two main characters: Tony Arnelo (John Hodiak ), a predatory nightclub owner, or Ann Parkson (Frances Gifford), wife of Arnelo's square-rigger of an attorney (George Murphy). But really the `A' serves to remind us that the story is chiefly about the Scarlet Letter of Adultery - the Affair of the title.
The movie's sinister, noirish elements are not quite an afterthought, but almost. During the first half of the movie, ignored and restive, Gifford sulks nobly in the household she shares with Murphy, forever working late on his legal briefs, and her nine-year-old son (Dean Stockwell) who thinks he could benefit from psychoanalysis. (She, however, may be a riper candidate for the couch, given as she is to swoons and passive-aggressive feigned headaches.)
When smooth-talking Hodiak flatters her and hires her as decorator, she obliges and soon finds herself with the key to his apartment and an inclination to use it for naughtier purposes than updating the chintz. But she soon finds out that Hodiak has many another slip in which to dock his dinghy; and when one of his stable of lady friends is found murdered, Gifford's initialed compact is found with the body. With the prompting of police detective Warner Anderson, Murphy is jolted out of his complacency and sets out to find the truth....
Like The Unfaithful of the same year (a sweetened-up remake of The Letter), The Arnelo Affair seems geared to the women in its audience, more a weeper than a noir. Even the redoubtable Eve Arden, as a dress-designing upstairs neighbor, gets paraded out as much for her eye-popping post-war get-ups as for her trademark mordant lines (and she's a welcome foil to all Gifford's suffering saintliness). The Arnelo Affair holds interest, if slackly; its director, Arch Oboler, hadn't much of a feel for the possibilities inherent in the script or the knack for bringing them out. It's telling that the most memorable characters in the movie are not the principals but Anderson, Arden and the nine-year-old Stockwell.
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