In flashback from a 'Rebecca'-style beginning: Ellen Foster, visiting her aunt on the California coast, meets neighbor Jeff Cohalan and his ultramodern clifftop house. Ellen is strongly ... See full summary »
Bachelor Harry Quincey, head designer in a small-town cloth factory, lives with his selfish sisters, glamorous hypochondriac Lettie and querulous widow Hester. His developing relationship ... See full summary »
In San Francisco, the successful self-made businessman Walter Williams has just bought three factories in Denver with the approval of the board of directors. His beloved wife Irene tells him that she is not feeling well to travel with him, and asks Walter to give a lift to her cousin Jim Torrance. On the highway, Jim, who is actually Irene's lover, tries to kill Walter hitting his head and throwing him in a cliff, and has a fatal accident while escaping driving Walters's car. Walter is considered dead and later his wife is sent to jail accused of plotting his murder. Meanwhile, the wounded Walter sleeps in a moving van and awakes in Larkspur, a small town in Idaho. He is hired as a mechanic in a gas station by the owner, Marsha Peters. For three months, Walter reads the news, expecting revenge with Irene sentenced to death, and he and Marsha fall in love for each other. When Walter discloses the truth to Marsha, she convinces him to return to San Francisco and save his unfaithful wife... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I imagine there will be many who dispute the characterization of "Impact" as film noir, and I can't blame them. It's not photographed in typical noir fashion, to be sure, but its themes are definitely in the noir neighborhood. There is a stark contrast between the murderous doings in San Francisco (and on the road), and the pastoral joys of Larkspur, Idaho--a contrast that is emphasized by the score, which favors harp and flute for Larkspur and dramatic strings, or even complete silence, for the rest of the film.
Brian Donlevy turns in a solid performance as the loving husband and successful industrialist who discovers his beloved wife is scheming with a lover to kill him; the scene where he breaks down after realizing this is more than solid, and reveals a depth of emotional understanding that Donlevy rarely showed, or at least got the chance to show. Helen Walker is just tremendous as the scheming wife, whose lightning-fast wit helps her transfer the murder rap from herself to her husband, despite her surprise at his being alive at all.
Charles Coburn slips in and out of an Irish brogue as the detective who suspects Walker and supports Donlevy, even at the expense of undercutting the D.A.'s case. Anna May Wong has a small role that emphasizes how the years have worn on her since her beautiful turn in "Shanghai Express." Philip Ahn has an even smaller role as Wong's uncle, who responds to Coburn's condescending query, "You savvy English?" with an urbane "Yes. Also French, Italian, and Hebrew" (reminiscent of his character years earlier in "Something to Sing About").
The plot gets a little convoluted, and the triumphant ending may seem like a bit of an anticlimax, but "Impact" should still be better known than it is.
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