It was Leonora Eames' childhood dream come true. She had married Smith Ohlrig, a man worth millions. But her innocent dream became a nightmare once she realizes the truth about her husband ... See full summary »
It was Leonora Eames' childhood dream come true. She had married Smith Ohlrig, a man worth millions. But her innocent dream became a nightmare once she realizes the truth about her husband - he is power mad and insane! Since he will not grant her a divorce, she leaves her life of luxury on Long Island and goes to work as a receptionist in an impoverished doctor's office in NYC's lower east side. After Smith deceives her into a temporary reconciliation, Leonora becomes pregnant. By the time she realizes she is expecting, she and one of the doctors, Larry Quinada (James Mason), have fallen in love. But she is again lured backed to her wealthy husband to give her child financial security. Her sadistic husband is hell-bent on keeping her and her child prisoner. What will happen to Leonora? Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This powerful film by Max Ophuls (who was billed for this and other American films as Max Opuls, strangely enough), is all about Howard Hughes, though not by name of course. The tall, looming and psychopathic presence of a gloom-ridden Robert Ryan dominates this film. He is the multi-millionaire control freak who either has to own and control everyone or if he cannot, then he must destroy them. Ryan is totally convincing as this appalling character, but then everyone in Hollywood knew all about Howard Hughes, knew just what he was like, and gleefully knew how to portray him as devastatingly as possible. (Was there anyone who did not hate Hughes, one wonders. Here you can see why.) Into the psychotic web of the Hughes character (called here Smith Ohlrig) comes an innocent young girl with one weakness: she wants to marry somebody rich. From here on, Ophuls savagely attacks that aspect of 'the American Dream' which focuses on money. Barbara Bel Geddes, two years after her spectacular debut in 'The Long Night' (1947), here delivers another overwhelming performance as a sweet-faced and sweet-voiced innocent. And we all know what happens to them, don't we? They become victims. Here, her victimhood reaches unheard-of extremes of psychological torture and cruelty from her maniac husband. In desperation, she flees the marital mansion without a penny and finds a low-paid job as a receptionist for two doctors on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, using her maiden name. One of them is stalwart Frank Ferguson, always present in any good Hollywood movie as a support. The other is James Mason, thoroughly convincing (with the exception of his English accent) as the selfless and good healer of the sick. Mason falls in love with Barbara, not knowing she is married or who she is. The expected complications ensue, and you can imagine Robert Ryan's reaction to all of this. Things get very intense indeed in this noirish melodrama. It is very gripping stuff, well made by the brilliant Ophuls, and gets under your skin. One reason for that is it is not just a story, it is an attack on that monstrous product of materialistic obsession and passion for domination, the 'ruthless business magnate'. Having known many ruthless business magnates, I find them just as disturbing as the one shown here, even though Ohlrig is an exaggerated version. But the basics are the same. Ophuls has endeavoured to make this not so much a 'morality tale' as a 'morality attack', and he succeeds totally. The Ryan character may be exaggerated for effect, but he is in no way a caricature. They really are out there, and if you have never met one, lucky you.
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