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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A woman is taken terrible advantage of by a hypnotist in "Whirlpool," a 1949 film starring Gene Tierney, Jose Ferrer, and Richard Conte, directed by Otto Preminger. Tierney is the wife of a successful psychiatrist who is caught shoplifting. She is helped by Ferrer, a hypnotist who steps in during her interrogation. He works with her to help her solve some of her problems, but he adds some other hypnosis as well.
This isn't a great Preminger. The acting is good, but the script is weak. First of all, is it really possible to hypnotize someone that completely? I don't know. What I do know is that it's absolutely against all ethics to talk about a patient with anyone as freely as Conte does. Since a good deal of the plot hinges on his breaking of that doctor-patient privilege, the story doesn't hold up.
Gene Tierney is her usual beautiful self. This is not, however, a role that plays to her strengths as an actress. She's sympathetic but doesn't explore the range of the role enough. She more easily played an icy or feisty type. In those days, as actresses neared 30, studios became less interested, and Tierney found herself in roles which she was not particularly right for - or that wasted her talent just to fulfill her contractual obligations. Ferrer is excellent as the oily hypnotist, keeping his voice even when he was saying the most outrageous things. Conte is very good as well as Tierney's husband.
All in all, this was interesting to watch, but it could have been much better given the talent behind and before the camera.
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