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Olivia de Havilland,
Chris Hunter kills an intruder and tells her husband and lawyer it was an act of self-defense. It's later revealed that he was actually her lover and she had posed for an incriminating statue he created. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is not a remake of "The Letter," rather this film and "The Letter" are based on the same source, a novel by W. Somerset Maugham. Strangely, Maugham is not given credit. Since he was still alive at the time, one wonders why he didn't object. Since "The Letter," there have been other films using the same theme but not quite as obviously as "The Unfaithful," though the setting and other parts have been changed to update the story.
The delightful Ann Sheridan, who never received her due recognition as an actress, plays the bored housewife who has a fling while her new husband is away at war. Like so many other beauties, Marilyn Monroe comes to mind, Sheridan was promoted as a sex kitten, The "Oomph" Girl, and her true talents were never appreciated by the Hollywood establishment.
Though Sheridan is fine, three supporting players steal the show. The magnificent Lew Ayres shines as the attorney friend who tries to put the pieces together hoping to exonerate Chris Hunter (Sheridan) from suspected murder. The more he searches the less the puzzle pieces fit. Ayres received a bum rap by Hollywood big wigs when he exercised his First Amendment rights during World War II to express his pacifist views. This movie represents his efforts to be re-accepted.
Zachary Scott plays against type as the husband who is caught in a murder investigation he doesn't understand. As the story unwinds, he learns more about his wife than he wants to know or to accept. When Bob Hunter (Scott) appears on the scene having been away on business, the viewer automatically thinks he is in someway involved in the killing since Scott usually played the bad guy. This film shows that Scott was a more versatile actor when given an opportunity.
Then there's the elegant Eve Arden as family friend and relative, Paula. Arden has some of the best lines in the movie and does she know how to deliver them! She is catty, coy, and funny when delivering just one well-written line of dialog. When her role turns more serious toward the end of the flick, she knows how to handle that too with élan.
The film is worthwhile but there are a few weaknesses. One is the introduction of characters that just wander in and then disappear without rhyme or reason. For example, at a drunken party, Paula's ex, Roger, played by Douglas Kennedy, disrupts the proceedings and has to be led away by Chris and Larry Hannaford (Lew Ayres). After such a grand spectacle, Roger is never seen or mentioned again in the movie. The viewer keeps waiting for his return thinking that just maybe he had something to do with the murder.
Another weakness is running time. This film is way too long. It would have played much better in a 60+ time slot. As is, there is too much dialog. So there are long boring talky parts included to stretch the film to an almost two hour format. "The Unfaithful" is more of an effective programmer than the flashy main feature it tries to be.
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