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Susan Hayward's excellence never comes as any surprise, because she could do anything. From a country preacher's wife in 'I'd Climb the Highest Mountain', to the executed (probable) murderess in 'I Want to Live', the pushy garment district broad in 'I Can Get It For You Wholesale', she also did comedy in 'The Marriage Go-Round' and played Bette Davis's nympho daughter in 'Where Love Has Gone'. These off-the-top-of-my-head roles barely scratch the surface, of course, of her peerless range.
Stephen Boyd is the rustic who comes to help out on the farm after Hayward is left with her son--played by an excellent, most sensitive child actor, Dennis Holmes--after her husband is killed fighting a fire. And Boyd is marvelous: strapping, rangy and handsome, crude and violent, and the plot twists around nicely on the refinements of life versus the necessities: During the first half, it seems as if Boyd's uncouthness is the only real urgency to be dissolved or removed; toward the end it seems as if Hayward has not been understanding enough. She would have been had he not been so inarticulate, of course. Nevertheless, this film is complex enough in terms of relationships and matters of making judgments and searching for compromises that are tolerable for different kinds of sensibilities--there are intelligent moments in which the local doctor seems to serve as psychoanalyst for both husband and wife.
It is a shame that these two weren't also paired as Oliver Mellors and Constance Chatterley: they look the parts (and could have certainly done them well) far more than any versions thus far made (and it's hard to imagine any more will be needed.)
Another recapturing of something I missed 45 years ago, when one Sunday afternoon I couldn't "go to the show" and had to go to my aunt's far older husband's birthday party, or it was their anniversary in their house in Ozark, Alabama...I hated it, but seeing this finally after all these years--and the nature of the film itself has something to do with this too--has made me happy I saw my ancient old uncle, who had once been a probate judge--and I saw him but one more time. I'd been unkind. And only now can I remember how important I know it was for him that I be there.
This was one of the most worthwhile of my childhood/teenage movie deprivations. The scene toward the end in which Robbie (Holmes) tries to kill Frank (Boyd) by leading him into the quagmire (advertised so many times previously in the film I thought the title of the film was going to be about how Robbie fell into the quicksand and Sharron (Hayward) actually became OBSESSED! since her grief for her first husband's death and her disgust at her new husband's crudeness would have been just cause if then combined with the death of her son, too; she does have a miscarriage, but that is not quite the same)and then helps him pull himself out with a tree limb--this is a truly touching and tender moment.
The only really unconvincing thing about this movie is the title: Hayward's character is under great hardship, but her reactions to the rough nature of Boyd's character are normal to say the least. She makes some mistakes, but she is just NOT a WOMAN OBSESSED. This ranks as perhaps the most misleading title I have yet encountered.
The photography, in the Canadian Rockies, is often breathtaking.
Barbara Nichols is perfectly refreshingly racily divine as a gossipy town blonde babe.
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