A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
The wife of a psycho-analyst falls prey to a devious quack hypnotist when he discovers she is an habitual shoplifter. Then one of his previous patients now being treated by the real doctor is found murdered, with her still at the scene, and suspicion points only one way. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
A successful marriage is usually based on what a husband and wife don't know about each other.
An interesting and divisive film noir thriller directed by Otto Preminger and written by Ben Hecht (under the blacklist pseudonym Lester Barstow) and Andrew Solt. Adapted from the novel "Methinks the Lady" written by Guy Endore, the film Stars Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, José Ferrer, and Charles Bickford. Arthur C. Miller is the cinematographer and David Raksin, under the watchful eye of Alfred Newman, provides the music.
The plot sees Ann Sutton (Tierney), the wife of a successful psychoanalyst (Conte), arrested for shoplifting since she has some kleptomania issues. Just when it seems Ann is about to be thrust into a world of scandal, she is saved by smooth-talking hypnotist called David Korvo (Ferrer). Korvo, however, is not what he seems to be, and Ann soon finds herself involved in blackmail and murder and her marriage on the brink of collapse. Confused and emotionally torn, Ann is unsure whether or not she has committed a crime. It looks bleak unless her husband or the police can get to the bottom of the murky mystery.
Combining a psychological thriller core with overt melodramatics, Whirlpool has still to convince many of the film noir hoards as to its worth. Some critics find the concept of the story silly and hard to take, whilst others have gone a step further to suggest that Preminger and Hecht have merely remade Hitchcock's Gregory Peck starrer Spellbound (Hecht on screenplay duties there too) from four years earlier. Either way, and putting a noirish sheen on a Hitchcock movie is no bad thing by the way, Preminger's movie is a compelling little piece of cinema. The central theme of hypnosis as a weapon gives the film a dark edge and Preminger nicely portrays a world containing sympathetically flawed characters. While in the form of Ferrer's oily slick Korvo, film noir gets a most intriguing Mabuse/Freudian like villain of high entertainment value.
Tierney doesn't have to do much here, asked to portray confusion and an almost constant state of hypnotism, she delivers well enough whilst always remaining innocently sexy, and Conte's woodenness as the husband oddly benefits the story. Also worthy of a mention is the ever watchable Charles Bickford as Lt. Colton, a thinking mans copper, Bickford keeps it serious as the daftness of the plot threatens to submerge and unhinge the drama. Frowned upon by big hitting American critics, the film found support from notable Frenchies Rivette and Godard. It seems that like myself, they too liked the quirky and creepy nature of the beast. 7/10
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