A dazed woman walks the streets of Los Angeles looking for a man named David. After collapsing in a diner, she's taken to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. Flashbacks reveal her ... See full summary »
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A dazed woman walks the streets of Los Angeles looking for a man named David. After collapsing in a diner, she's taken to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. Flashbacks reveal her obsession for David as a result of borderline personality disorder which ultimately leads to murder. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Crawford spent time in actual psychiatric wards, observing mental patients as research for this role. She was subsequently named in a small lawsuit when a female patient sued her for observing her without her written permission. The suit was later dropped. See more »
When Louise and Carol are at the piano recital, David and his friends can be seen in the distant background taking their seats. When it cuts to a medium shot of David, they are taking their seats for a second time. See more »
"Possessed" is one of the marvelous genre hybrids that appeared in the late 40s and early 50s. It is both Film Noir (admittedly, an "invented" genre) and woman's picture. Elements of the latter genre include a female main character and her obsession with a lover who has moved on. The Noir elements (flashback, dark, moody photography, and a sinister, fatalistic edge to the proceedings) raise this melodrama to nearly tragic heights. It should not be dismissed as a throwaway Crawford vehicle, or overgrown B picture.
Curtis Bernhardt directs the film with a compelling assurance. This movie knows where it's going and it takes you along for the ride. Many scenes have an enthralling dramatic appeal. Early in the film, for example, Louise is overwhelmed by the Van Heflin character playing a section from Schumann's "Carnaval" on the piano. There is a terrific admixture of closeups of Crawford's face with the music. This music will play a subtle leitmotivic role in the rest of the film. Worthy of note as well is Franz Waxman's intense, not too-romanticized score. And this film contains what must be an early use of electronic voice distortion to convey Louise's gradual descent toward a nervous breakdown.
All actors--Raymond Massey, Van Heflin, Geraldine Brooks--are good and bring more than a touch of conviction to their roles. But Joan Crawford is at the center of the picture, and she gives here what may be her very best screen performance. It is not surprising to learn that Crawford was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for this detailed, gradated portrayal of a woman travelling through a private hell. So convincing and inspired is this performance, that it is universal in its appeal.
"Possessed" could form a "trilogy" with "Born to Kill" (1947, with Claire Trevor and Lawrence Tierney) and "No Man of Her Own" (1950, with Barbara Stanwyck and Lyle Bettger): all immensely entertaining journeys through dark emotional landscapes of obsession, betrayal and desperation.
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