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Possessed (1947)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 26 July 1947 (USA)
After being found wandering the streets of Los Angeles, a severely catatonic woman tells a doctor the complex story of how she wound up there.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Ridgely ...
Dr. Ames
Dr. Max Sherman
Peter Miles ...
Wynn Graham (as Gerald Perreau)
Jakob Gimpel ...
Pianist (as Jacob Gimpel)
Isabel Withers ...
Nurse Rosen
Lisa Golm ...
Asst. District Attorney
Dr. Craig


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 <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 July 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Secret  »

Box Office


$2,592,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Star Joan Crawford and director Curtis Bernhardt spent time in real psychiatric wards in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and Pasadena, observing mental patients as research for the film. On one of these visits, Crawford and Bernhardt witnessed, without asking permission, a woman undergoing electro convulsive shock therapy. Warner Bros. was later forced to pay substantial damages to the woman, who claimed their presence was an invasion of privacy. 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 »


David Sutton: I'm sorry Louise I seldom hit a woman, but if you don't leave me alone I'll wind up kicking babies.
See more »


Featured in Kisses (1991) See more »


Carnaval, Opus 9
by Robert Schumann
Played on a piano by Van Heflin (dubbed by Jakob Gimpel)
See more »

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User Reviews

Another Great Performance by Crawford
26 January 2014 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Possessed (1947)

*** (out of 4)

Joan Crawford's incredible performance is the highlight of this thriller. In the film she plays Louise Howell, a woman who begins to suffer a mental breakdown after the man (Van Heflin) she loves walks away from her. Even though she marries another man (Raymond Massey) the stress of the other one leaving her just causes her mind to collapse. It's very important to point out the fact that this film was released thirteen years before Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO and I say that because of how much credit that film gets when it comes to looking at mental illness. Viewing POSSESSED today it's easy to see where the film is going as it is quite predictable and there's no question that some of the mental illness terms are out of date. With that said, for the most part this is a fairly good thriller that manages to keep your attention thanks in large part to the terrific cast. I'm not sure what else can be said about Crawford but there's no question that she was on quite a row at Warner. First with MILDRED PIERCE then HUMORESQUE and finally POSSESSED, the actress was really pushing herself and it made for three incredible performances. What's so amazing about her performance here is how many different personalities she manages to play. This character goes through all sorts of mental "issues" and I really loved the various ways Crawford brought them to the screen. It could be as simple as someone turning their back on her or someone telling her that they're not in love. There are several scenes where she's imagining things happening to her and Crawford is just flawless. It certainly doesn't help that Heflin is perfect as the snake and Massey is also extremely good as the supporting husband. Geraldine Brooks also deserves a lot of credit for her wonderful supporting performance as the step-daughter. Director Curtis Bernhardt brings a lot of style and atmosphere to the film and there's also some wonderful cinematography that helps. Again, the film is quite predictable but this doesn't take away the fun or the brilliant work by Crawford.

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