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Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn are lovers who murder Lana's cruel, but wealthy husband, played by Lloyd Nolan. Since Quinn is her husband's physician, the murder is easily committed, but blackmail, guilt and suspicion are the unanticipated results. Written by
Jeanne Armintrout <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Oh the heartache and troubles rich people suffer through. Take Sheila Cabot (Lana Turner) for example, an attractive, middle-aged woman married to a wealthy, but ailing, shipping tycoon, Matthew Cabot (Lloyd Nolan). They live in a San Francisco mansion overlooking the Bay, and have multiple servants. But Matthew is gruff, verbally abuses his wife, and generally treats everyone like dirt. It's enough to make Sheila ... well ... cry. Making matters infinitely worse, Sheila has a lover on the side. And she's desperate to exchange the gruff hubby for the lover. However will she manage?
That's the setup for this melodrama-mystery combo, a story that involves passion, suspicion, deception, and ultimately murder. The film's easy to follow plot gets a needed boost when a card addressed to Sheila arrives in the mail. All the card says is: "Congratulations on the success of ..." That scene sends the plot hurling into mystery territory. Who wrote the card, and why?
The script's two main characters behave in ways that do not seem credible, given their circumstances. And the idea that a grown woman living in California has never learned to drive is a tad dubious.
The film's overall look and feel is that of a typical 1950s melodrama. Elegant, expensive clothes, dreamy violin background music, and melodramatic acting conjure up visions of some sudsy 1950s film directed by Douglas Sirk. I don't recall any scene in which Lana Turner is not wearing an expensive dress and, in some scenes, a full-length mink coat.
Color cinematography is acceptable, if unremarkable. Casting favors well-known actors. And they perform well enough. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of Sandra Dee.
If you're looking for a believable story, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a sudsy melodrama and/or mystery, "Portrait In Black" will appeal. I could have done without the pretentious suds of these very rich people. But the plot puzzle provided enough mystery to keep me hooked.
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