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Jenny Marsh, still dangerously attractive after 5 years in prison for killing a man in defense of her shady lover Harry, clashes at first with parole officer Griff Marat, who's determined to make Jenny go straight. For lack of other prospects Griff finds Jenny a job in his own home, and his objectivity about her wavers, while Jenny continues to meet Harry secretly. However, when Jenny transfers her affections from Harry to Griff, the situation becomes even more dangerous... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Director Douglas Sirk signed to make this film on the basis of Sam Fuller's original screenplay, which was called "The Lovers" and ended in a shoot-out. Co-producer Helen Deutsch rewrote the script and added a cop-out ending Sirk disliked. Sirk later said Deutsch's script changes ruined the film by depriving it of the sense of doom in Fuller's original story. See more »
A bit canned and choppy, but Wilde's performance is sharp and the filming fine
Sam Fuller, the writer of this film, is admired for breaking rules and being a little bit edgy. Douglas Sirk, the director, is known for sumptuous, no compromise melodramas with gorgeous dreamy sets and an arch and affecting artificiality. They make an odd mix, and something doesn't quite click here.
The plot is standard fare but good--a parole officer falls for a reluctant parole, who still has a thing for a thug up to no good. The officer is terrific, Cornell Wilde at his regular guy best, a kind of echo of Dana Andrews with a little more warmth. But the main woman, Patricia Wright, is a bit wooden. You can feel her trying too hard too often, and it's just one of those things that cuts the rest of the effort down to size. Not surprisingly, she was only in five feature films, and was the lead in only one other.
But setting aside her presence and its deadening effect, there are some things to really enjoy here. You might find the movie ordinary for awhile, with some nice clichés and a steady development. But then, halfway, there's a huge and really sudden twist. And a believable one, a great scene. Suddenly there is a whole new plot. We aren't quite involved enough with the two leads to get swept away in their love affair (as we certainly do in "Gun Crazy" two years later, or in "They Live by Night" the same year), but it's exciting anyway. There are some scenes at an oil rig and the worker's cabins (I assume it's a set) that are gorgeous.
And then there's a sixty second surprise ending that doesn't do the movie justice and is very unlike Fuller. It's almost like someone took the script from Fuller and said, no Sam, that won't do. And rewrote it. And in fact that's what happened. One of the Columbia producers, Helen Deutsch, stepped in to remove Fuller's violent first intention. In fact, that final scene wasn't even directed by Sirk, who quit Columbia and left the country in anger (only to return and start a string of his famous 1950s masterpieces). A detailed account of all this is at www.tcm.com/this-month/article/208688%7C0/Shockproof.html.
What else? The photography by Charles Lawton Jr. is great (he had just done Welles's vigorous "Lady from Shanghai"), and a lot of the side actors are really good, especially the gambler boyfriend played by John Baragrey. This is one of those films to enjoy in pieces, or to enjoy for how it fits into the chronologies of some of the people who made it. Wilde and Knight, by the way, were still married during the filming (Wilde insisted Knight get the part) but they split up in 1951.
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