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Brandon and Jessie Bourne have been married to each other for many years. A few years ago, Brandon had an extra-martial affair with Isabel Lorrison. Now she has returned to New York intending to start over with the relationship once again. Meanwhile, Jessie is attracted to Mark Dwyer, just arrived from a secret mission in Italy. Written by
The film begins with James Mason at a nightclub trying to make time with a young lady (Cyd Charisse). Charisse isn't and realizes he's a married man. Oddly, despite this, Mason is NOT interested in a fast woman who also enters the scene. It seems that Ava Gardner had, in the past, had an affair with Mason--and he wanted nothing to do with her again--as she was clingy.
You then find out that Mason's sad wife is Barbara Stanwyck and she knows about this previous fling with Gardner. She is desperately hoping to get on with their lives--and is scared when Gardner approaches her to announce she's going to steal Mason! Stanwyck acts brave--but it's obvious she's shaken.
A short time after this showdown, Stanwyck learns that Gardner is dead and the viewer is uncertain who did it. Stanwyck, you know, didn't do it. But, Mason might have. Or, perhaps some third party did the deed. The only thing you know for sure is that Gardner's character had it coming!! Fortunately, Heflin just so happens to be a retired cop. And so, while he's VERY interested in Stanwyck, he also has a chance to help out by figuring out who committed the crime.
This film has a terrific cast--Barbara Stanwyck, Van Helfin, James Mason and Ava Gardner. And, with the material they were given, the actors did a fine job--particularly Miss Gardner who played a wonderfully evil part. The problem, however, is that the film rarely seems believable and the writing, as another reviewer stated, was rather 'pedestrian'. Surely with so much acting talent you'd think they'd be able to come up with THIS! One of the worst problems with the film is the character played by Stanwyck. It was a very thankless role--a woman whose husband has cheated on her yet cannot let the rat go. Viewers are inclined to be a bit annoyed by her needy character--especially when, otherwise, she is supposed to be strong and intelligent. Another problem is the relationship between Heflin and Stanwyck. While you could see them fall in love and this makes for a very interesting twist (the injured wife finding love herself with another man), it all happened way too fast. They just met and then there was an instant attraction--something that rarely happens in real life and which cannot be understood by the viewer based on their meeting. It was simply too rushed and as a result, difficult to believe. All in all, it should have been a lot better and the film is a stylish but not especially inspired soaper.
If you do watch this, there is only one standout scene in the film. Watch Heflin in the car with the blonde. The scene is great...and really brutal---and very reminiscent of film noir. I just wish the rest of the film had been that tough and unflinching. Also, keep an eye out for William Conrad as a cop. He looks a lot like his days as 'Cannon' but with a bit more hair--and that same wonderful voice!
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