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Interesting Noir
FilmFlaneur11 April 2001
Brahm's intricately constructed film is based on the obvious conceit of a locket: in psychoanalytical terms, it symbolises repressed memory and of the 'opening up' of hidden psychosis. In a filmic sense of course, The Locket itself is a cinematic 'locket', the flashbacks within flashback structure reflecting the secret enclosure typical of such a piece of jewellery.

In fact I can't think of another film that takes this much commented narrative technique to such extremes. Mitchum of course was well used to playing heros faced with abnormal feminine psychology. He faces similar femme fatales in Preminger's 'Angel Face' for instance and in Farrow's 'Where Danger Lives' - all made at around the same time (end 40's, start of 50's). This may reflect something of the obsession that Hollywood had with cod Freudianism just as much as noir convention, but there is no doubting that Mitchum's peculiar manner as an actor, his doe-eyed sleep-walking acting style, made his starring excursions into the dangers of the subconscious peculiarly effective.

Brahm, one of Hollywoods most neglected directors at least for the work that he did at this time in his career, makes the somewhat over- stretched structure of the film work, pun intended, like a dream. Nancy's final walk to the altar, immediately before her mental and psychic collapse, although necessarily melodramatic, is very effective version of a personal calvary and she seems stunned and trance like. In retrospect, of course, it is easy to see how the whole of the preceding film has been leading up to this sequence, (just as how the flashback structure of the film reminds one in passing of 'Citizen Kane') but the sound and vision montage is still powerful.

By setting the bulk of the film in flashback, Brahm places it in the past - or, more precisely, in the imaginatively reconstructed past, and it is this dream-sense that retains a powerful grip on the viewer as events unfold. This almost hallucinatory sense, together with a feeling of 'drifting with fate', marks out some of the greatest noirs and B-mysteries made at this time and is what makes this film still very watchable today.

A 'Locket' well worth looking into.
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Interesting psychological drama told through flashbacks within flashbacks
blanche-217 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Laraine Day plays a disturbed young woman in "The Locket," about a childhood trauma that dictates a woman's future. Brian Aherne, a young Robert Mitchum, and Gene Raymond all play men duped by her as she goes from husband to husband.

During and after World War II, the subject of psychiatry became a popular one in films as soldiers and their families sought to deal with the psychological implications of the war experience. "Possessed," "Lady in the Dark," "A Dark Adapted Eye," "Snakepit," were some of those films, to name only a few.

In "The Locket," Brian Aherne visits bridegroom-to-be Gene Raymond to warn him about his future wife, and in Aherne's story, Mitchum has come to visit him - so that soon we have a flashback within a flashback within a flashback, going back to Day's childhood and the trauma she suffered at the hands of her mother's employer, when she is accused of taking a locket that in reality, the employer's daughter had given her. The Day character is a magnificent actress, fooling each man she meets into believing that the problem is with the man in the prior situation.

Laraine Day is lovely and does the wide-eyed innocent beautifully. She has long been a favorite actress of mine. The men are all good. It's great to see young, handsome Mitchum in the role of an artist who becomes involved with Day.

All in all, a fascinating story and well worth seeing.
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Masterful use of flashbacks.
MommyoAndretti6 October 2005
Saw this for the first time on Turner Classic last night and was thoroughly impressed with the successful use of flashbacks that were clearly understood and served the story well.

There was no confusion for the viewer despite the complex storyline and varying points of view involved.

The mystery held me throughout. It was a matter of he said/she said that left you undecided, or at least unsure, of who was being truthful and who wasn't. Even the sequences in the flashbacks were reflecting one person's point of view and not necessarily what really happened.

I would highly recommend this movie to my friends who love good scripts and especially to any would-be screenwriters looking at the correct use of flashbacks in film.

Characters, plot line, direction, photography, acting: all excellent.
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Leonard Maltin was definitely wrong with his two star rating! (Possible spoiler)
Doylenf29 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Having just written a career article on Laraine Day for FILMS OF THE GOLDEN AGE magazine, I consider this film the highlight of her acting career. It provided her with a really interesting and meaty role as a compulsive liar and kleptomaniac who destroys the lives of three suitors. Her warped personality is not evident on the surface--explaining how she effectively deceives three men unfortunate enough to love her. This was a typical film noir psychological melodrama, the kind popular right after World War II (Spellbound, The Dark Mirror, etc.)and its only flaw is the heavy use of flashbacks. But even so, the story unwinds in an interesting fashion and the flashbacks never become confusing. Laraine Day was at her most beautiful and gives an assured performance in the central role (a forerunner of the type of woman played by Tippi Hedren in 'Marnie'). Robert Mitchum, Brian Aherne and Gene Raymond are excellent. One of the most effective scenes in the film is the climactic wedding day. Attired in bridal gown and veil, guilty memories flash through her mind as she walks slowly down the aisle--until she is overcome by memories concerning the theft of a certain locket and her life of deceit. Day's fans will appreciate her performance--a restrained and skillful piece of acting.
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Interestingly different film that comes together despite a risky flashback-within-a-flashback structure
bob the moo27 December 2005
Just before his wedding to the beautiful and carefree Nancy, John Willis is visited by Doctor Harry Blair who informs him that he knows the real Nancy and warns the doctor not to make the same mistake as him by marrying her. He tells her the story of how he had just married Nancy when a man called Clyde turned up in his office and told him a story about how he had met Nancy and had got drawn into her world of deception.

Shunning conventional structure is always a risk and in this film it is one that it takes as we have a story being told by Blair that is basically about him being told a story by Clyde. This makes for an interesting approach especially since the stories are both told by her dumped lovers. In this regard we're not sure what is true and what isn't and, while the stories engage on one level, I was conscious of the fact that they were telling and not necessarily facts (a trick Usual Suspects would later repeat to great praise). Existing within the minds of the characters, the story is interesting and is all the better at the end for it. For many viewers the story-telling approach will be a little slow and I times it did drag a bit but mostly it comes together and works as something different and interesting.

The cast are roundly good although they take second fiddle to the script and the ideas of director Brahm (who produces some clever ideas in Nancy's bridal march). Aherne is a bit too stiff in the role where really I wanted him to display a bit more range. Mitchum is good in his role but it wasn't the sort of thing I was used to seeing him in and he has been much better elsewhere. Day takes the main role of Nancy and does well with it – she is part of the reason we're not sure what is true and what isn't and she convinced me that she didn't know either. She has plenty of nice touches as well as one or two very strong moments. Like I said though, this wasn't a great actors film but nobody was less than good.

Overall this is an interesting and different film that takes a risk by stepping back to flashback within flashback but mostly pulls it off. The story format might be a little testing on the patience (hearing about something implies a lack of action in the time where we are – after all the audience spent the film in the Willis study) but the material is worth it and, once back in the present, everything comes together nicely. Worth seeing for being a different style of drama from the period.
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Really good
hankochai5 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
*Warning this contains a small spoiler at the end* Just saw this on TCM -- wow, I'd never heard of this movie and it's excellent! Laraine Day is fabulous in the way she plays "nice" and "perky" without spilling too much into saccharine, but there's always the slight undercurrent of creepiness. Mitchum is fantastic as usual, and Brian Aherne (a one-time lover of Marlene Dietrich, by the way) was excellent as well. The director handled the flashback within flashback within flashback quite well -- I can see how it could've been annoying and tiresome, but for some reason it worked without getting on my nerves. And I loved it when the mean lady who'd accused Nancy of stealing the locket years before stepped into the frame, and you realize she's the mother-in-law-to-be! Zowee. This was a real treat to watch.
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Flashback within a flashback within a flashback!
David-24023 October 1999
Yes! This is the movie that does just that - but it's worth watching for more than that. It is an inspired piece of film-making with excellent direction and fine photography. It also features some strong performances especially from the (is she or isn't she evil) Laraine Day, and the wonderful Brian Aherne. And Robert Mitchum's pretty good too. The best bits are almost expressionist - especially the music box shots - and it's full of the pseudo psychological nonsense that Hollywood loved so much in this era. Highly enjoyable.
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This Movie has Aged Better than MOST!
suferdiva17 July 2005
Laraine Day supported by Robert Mitchum, Brian Aherne, and Gene Raymond. The three men associated with "Nancy" are all very adept in their parts, especially Robert Mitchum. The plots twist and turns keep you interested for the entire film. You will notice Lillian Fontaine as Lady Wyndham. She is also noted for her two brilliant daughters Joan Fontaine and Oliva de Havilland. The film is very much like a Hitchcock movie in its style. It is dark and has several different possible solutions, but the real end is not expected. It is much more complex than even a true mystery buff would guess. It does not keep you on the edge of your seat, it is not that type of film, it just plods along and keeps your interest throughout the film, and makes you think (a little).
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Psychological Neo-Gothic Melodrama
JamesHitchcock12 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Made in the stark "film noir" style that was popular for crime dramas in the forties and fifties, "The Locket" deals with a similar theme to Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie", that of a beautiful but psychologically disturbed young woman whose disturbance manifests itself as kleptomania, an uncontrollable impulse to steal. The main character, Nancy Monks, is a working-class girl who as a child was wrongly accused by her mother's wealthy employer of stealing a valuable locket and harshly beaten. The memory of this injustice has scarred Nancy ever since, and in adult life she tries to revenge herself on the world by stealing jewellery. Her compulsion to steal wrecks first her relationship with Norman Clyde, a young artist, and then her marriage to Harry Blair, a psychiatrist. Nancy's crimes may, indeed, go beyond mere theft; there is a suggestion that she may have committed a murder in the course of one robbery, a murder for which an innocent man suffers the death penalty. His feelings of guilt about his role in this affair drive Clyde to suicide.

Much of the comment on this film has centred on its unusually baroque structure, complex even by today's standards and even more so by those of the forties. It has been described as a "flashback within a flashback within a flashback". (The main action takes place on the morning of Nancy's second wedding. The story of her marriage to Blair is told in the first flashback, which contains a second flashback telling Clyde's story as told to Blair, which in turn contains a flashback narrating the story of her childhood). Despite this intricate construction, however, the plot line is never difficult to follow.

The film's links to Hitchcock's works go beyond a thematic resemblance to "Marnie". The set used for the house of Nancy's mother's employer is the same one used for the house of Alex Sebastian in "Notorious"; in both cases it serves to suggest opulent wealth combined with coldness. More importantly, the film-makers clearly shared the fascination with psychology that was obvious in such Hitchcock films as "Spellbound" or "Psycho". Such a fascination, particularly with the theories of Freud, was, in fact, quite common in the cinema around this period, although these theories were often somewhat bowdlerised. The censors were clearly uncomfortable with Freud's insistence on the particular importance of sexual experiences in influencing the human psyche. (I was interested to read the comments of the reviewer who pointed out the use of the locket of the title as a symbol of repressed memory).

Despite these thematic links it is not really accurate to describe the film as "minor league Hitchcock" as one reviewer did. I have not seen any of John Brahm's other films, but "The Locket" is the work of a major-league player. It is not a suspense film in the normal Hitchcock style but rather a melodrama. Brahm is able to get good performances out of his actors, particularly from Robert Mitchum as Clyde and Laraine Day, an actress with whom I was not previously familiar, as Nancy. The melodramatic style requires a non-naturalistic heightening of emotion; in some films this might have come across as over-acting, but here it is quite deliberate, done for increased dramatic effect and in line with the dark, neo-Gothic tone of the film. This is not a well-known film today, but I was lucky enough to catch it when it was recently shown on British television, and was not disappointed. 7/10
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Maltin doesn't know what he is talking about!!
joots0120 January 2001
This is a great movie! I wasn't expecting to like it but boy, was I in for a suprise. The flashback within a flashback within a flashback (Is there another one?) theme is so great and is never the least bit confusing. Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, Robert Mithchum, and Gene Raymond give great performances in this thriller.
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Interesting structure
didi-51 April 2005
This film by underrated director John Brahm is one of the more interesting works of the 1940s (not one of the best, but different).

Laraine Day plays Nancy, about to marry and hiding some dark secrets in her past. She was excellent at this kind of thing. Gene Raymond (not the most charismatic of actors but surprisingly good here) plays her intended, with Brian Aherne as the psychiatrist who knows about her previous life.

In flashback we see Nancy and her husband (a young Robert Mitchum) and then into another flashback (daring to attempt this at the time when many films were still pursuing conventional structure).

'The Locket' of the title obviously holds the key to the mystery, and we have an absorbing time pulling all the loose ends together. Reginald Denny, Ricardo Cortez, and Ellen Corby decorate an accomplished cast.
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Going Down For The Third Time
seymourblack-120 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Freudian theories and psychoanalysis were topics which generated widespread interest and discussion in the 1940s and psychodramas such as "The Locket" tapped into the public's preoccupation with these matters.

"The Locket" is a criminally underrated movie which depicts absolute evil masquerading as normality and in so doing, creates tremendous suspense and intrigue throughout. The story's central character is a femme fatale who is a kleptomaniac, an habitual liar and someone whose actions lead to the deaths of three men and the mental breakdown of another. Interestingly, because the psychosis which is at the root of her behaviour was triggered by an act which was both cruel and unjust, the audience is led to view her actions with greater ambivalence than would otherwise be the case. Similarly, though not necessarily for the same reason, the three men in her life are also reluctant to believe the extent of her wickedness and try valiantly to either protect her or to rationalise her actions.

An immensely enjoyable feature of the movie is its structure which utilises a triple flashback technique (i.e. a flashback within a flashback within a flashback), at the same time as it incorporates a circular one which links the story's oldest chronological sequence with the film's final sequence of events. The flashbacks, which effectively plumb down to a previously unchartered third level, are handled with such proficiency that the technique never causes any confusion and in fact, seems to be a perfectly natural way of recounting the events involved. The circular element of the structure also expertly brings a satisfying symmetry to the whole entity.

Nancy (Laraine Day) is a young woman who, as a ten year old, had an experience which left an indelible mark on her. Her mother's employer, Mrs Willis (Katherine Emery), forcibly made her confess to stealing a locket (which she hadn't stolen) and as a result, her mother lost her job. Some years later, Nancy worked as a secretary for a millionaire businessman and also had a relationship with a struggling portrait painter. The painter was Norman Clyde (Robert Mitchum), a difficult and moody person but one who she encouraged to accept the patronage of her boss Andrew Bonner (Ricardo Cortez). The couple attended two parties at the Bonner house and on both occasions jewellery was stolen and during the second party Mr Bonner was shot and killed. The valet at the house was arrested for the murder and after being found guilty was sentenced to death. After this, Nancy decided to move to Florida where she met and subsequently married a psychiatrist called Dr Harry Blair (Brian Aherne).

Shortly after Dr Blair established a practise in New York, he was visited by Norman Clyde who told him that an innocent man was due to be executed and Nancy could prevent this from happening if she would admit that she was responsible for Bonner's death. Blair wasn't prepared to believe Clyde's accusations and invited him to his house that evening to meet his wife and discuss the matter. That evening, Nnacy denied all the accusations and soon after, the execution went ahead. Clyde was tormented by his inability to prevent the innocent man's execution and committed suicide by jumping out of one of the windows at Dr Blair's office. Following this incident, the Blairs decided to move to England where a series of events culminated in the couple divorcing and Dr Blair suffering a mental breakdown after recognising his wife's true nature.

After having recovered and returned to the United States, Dr Blair discovered that Nancy was due to get married to a millionaire called John Willis (Gene Raymond) and on the day of the wedding, before the ceremony took place, he met Willis and told him everything he knew about the woman that Willis was due to marry. What subsequently happened, led to some totally devastating consequences after, ironically, the locket which had been taken from Nancy so many years before was given back to her.

One of the movie's greatest assets is the cinematography (by Nicholas Musuraca) which is excellent throughout but is especially effective in the darkly lit scenes in Clyde's studio and in the restaurant where he meets Nancy and also when Clyde's face symbolically darkens as he starts to tell Dr Blair the story of his experiences with Nancy. The action moves at an exhilarating pace which is generated both by the speed with which information is revealed and also by the extra interest which is sparked as each new revelation is made.

Laraine Day's character is seen by most of those around her as being enchanting and perfect and she conveys these qualities very successfully at the same time as also displaying her character's immense talent at being very convincing whilst lying outrageously. Robert Mitchum is also particularly good as the brash, recalcitrant and extremely confrontational Clyde.
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intricate noir worth trying to find
limsgirl18 August 2001
I give full credit to this little treat for introducing me to the world of noir cinema when I happened to stumble onto it on AMC. (Oh, that AMC showed films of this caliber lately!) Laraine Day gives a beautifully understated performance, handling what would now perhaps be called a tragic case of posttraumatic stress disorder resulting in a life of twists and turns with truth, no scenery chewing. Brian Aherne strikes just the right clinical note as the sadder-but-wiser exhusband, and Robert Mitchum gives a memorable performance as the first (at least the first chronicled in this tale) man to fall victim to Nancy's fatal charms. As Norman, he certainly delivers a farewell present to Nancy's physician spouse, and by extension, to Nancy, that they won't soon forget. The denouement at the mansion while wedding guests await fair Nancy is gripping cinema. Watch for a great performance by the mother of Joan Fontaine and Olivia Dehaviland as the cruel woman responsible for Nancy's childhood trauma. Worth the while!
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Its not a movie about a little girls most valued treasure
Boyo-226 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Don't let the title fool you. Its not a movie about a little girl who was denied a locket and let it effect the rest of her life.

Well, actually that's exactly what it is, but that's only a very small part of this melodrama.

On the day he's getting married, a man is told (through flashbacks) about his fiance's previous marraige, and then through more flashbacks, we meet Robert Mitchum, who she was engaged to. Incredibly, through even more flashbacks (at this point, I thought we'd be treated to seeing Noah gather the animals for the trip), you get to the locket situation.

Movie is not nearly as confusing as I am making it sound and is very well acted. I had never seen and barely heard of Laraine Day (I think she was in a Hitchcock) and she's very appealing. She's kind of a cross between Linda Darnell and Vera Miles, if you can picture that, and doesn't give the slightest hint that's out of her mind. She doesn't play 'crazy' which helps the movie because it leaves you room to doubt her OR everyone else in the movie.

The end is a shame cause its over the top, but I still enjoyed this and would recommend it to anyone. 7/10.
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Correction to previous "Limsgirl" review...
Doylenf27 September 2001
I'm correcting a mistake in the previous post by Limsgirl of Massachussetts. That was NOT the mother of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine who played the cruel woman who gives Nancy (Laraine Day) the locket. That woman was actress KATHERINE EMERY who played many "evil" or mean women in supporting roles. Lilian Fontaine had a brief nondescript role as a wealthy woman and made no impression whatsoever--she never had a really good role on screen, appearing briefly in THE LOST WEEKEND (Jane Wyman's mother) and IVY (as Joan Fontaine's friend, Lady Flora). LET'S GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE--and applause for Katherine Emery as the cruel woman who has an immense effect on Nancy's life.
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"He's going to make all the mistakes I did"
ackstasis21 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The flashback has always been an essential part of the film noir formula. By showing events from the perspective of one who already knows the ultimate outcome of his mistakes, the audience is placed in a position of near-complete omniscience. Since we already know the outcome, but are powerless to change it, the story structure encourages an overriding element of fate. The hero is doomed – he knows it now, but didn't know it then. Is this the lingering disillusion left over from WWII? Where once a nation had marched proudly and patriotically into combat, it now recognised the pure folly of its enthusiasm. John Brahm's 'The Locket (1946)' certainly boasts one of cinema's most audacious uses of the flashback narrative device, effectively utilising a "flashback within a flashback within a flashback" to tell a complex story in which three different protagonists find their lives ruined by the derangement of a single woman. This femme fatale doesn't mess around when it comes to potential husbands, and her victims – besotted lovers who are left helpless by a pretty face – are only too happy to be exploited.

John Willis (Gene Raymond) is about to marry Nancy (Laraine Day), the most charming, intelligent and beautiful woman he's ever met. Just hours before the wedding ceremony, he is confronted by Nancy's former husband Dr Harry Blair (Brian Aherne), who pleads with him not to marry her, having experienced first-hand the pain of Nancy's betrayal. Just years earlier, Blair himself was a smitten newly-wed, and he, too, was confronted by one of his wife's former lovers (Robert Mitchum), who expressed the belief that Nancy was guilty of murder, a crime for she allowed an innocent man to be executed. The nature of her behaviour lies in a troublesome childhood that encouraged kleptomanic tendencies. The true beauty of this flashback technique is that the audience is treated to nothing but hearsay, and that each of these characters could just as easily be lying. Though 'The Locket' appears to treat its flashbacks with sincerity, Alfred Hitchcock exploited this practice just a few years later in 'Stage Fright (1950),' as did Bryan Singer long afterwards with 'The Usual Suspects (1995).'

Laraine Day, certainly not an actress I'd associated with any sort of villainy, brilliantly utilises her innocent screen persona to paradoxically portray one of film noir's shiftiest femme fatales. Until the overly melodramatic ending, Nancy doesn't betray even a hint of malevolence. When Dr Blair first mentions Norman Clyde's name, she doesn't flinch, not even a momentary double-take that would have revealed the malice within. Is Nancy a guiltless victim being slandered by jilted former lovers, or is she everything they describe and more? The most frightening revelation is that, for most of the film, we can't even tell the difference. Despite its excellent strengths, 'The Locket' unfortunately suffers from an obligatory ending in which the villainess receives her due, and I would have preferred a more understated approach. Perhaps, as she walks down the wedding aisle, Nancy could be perpetually tormented by the ringing melody of the broken music box, a symbol of her lifelong guilt. Or maybe – Hays forbid – she could have gotten away with everything, her next sucker already waiting at the altar.
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Little-known noir gem
ecjones19519 October 2005
Knowing that this is the movie with the famous "flashback within a flashback within a flashback" draws people in, but the device never comes across as forced or artificial, and it works.

Like a lot of other people, I think Leonard Maltin underrates this one. "The Locket" is fun and suspenseful, as all "did she or didn't she" stories are when they're told right. This is Laraine Day's finest hour, and Robert Mitchum is very good in a sympathetic role. They are ably supported by Brian Aherne and Gene Raymond.

It's nice to see so many of the wonderful old thrillers from the 40s enjoying a revival. So many little gems like "The Locket" come in at under 90 minutes; they benefit from tight writing, intriguing premises and neat plot twists. Like "Detour," "Phantom Lady," "Follow Me Quietly" and many others, "The Locket" does not disappoint.

This is the kind of movie you think about all day long, and maybe the day after, if you happen upon it at 3:00 a.m. on TCM.
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Better than Maltin says
rupie27 April 2000
Though hardly a 'great' movie, this is a thoroughly absorbing and above-average B-movie that keeps one involved. The acting is excellent throughout, and the triply-nested flashbacks are an original conceit. It deserves better than the 2 stars Maltin gives it. Thanks, American Movie Classics, for bringing us this one.
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The Locket is A Gem of A Film ***1/2
edwagreen1 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Lorraine Day gives a powerful performance as a woman who can't help stealing jewelry based on a very unfortunate incident in her youth. The incident showed class distinctions and how the wealthy are so often mistrusting of those below them in social status.

In a supporting role, Robert Mitchum portrays the artist whose life Day ultimately destroyed. Brian Aherne, as the therapist who married Day and was taken in by her, is equally good.

The film proves that lasting experiences, even in childhood, shall have an impact later in one's life.

The flashback technique is used very powerfully here. While done a lot, it gives us insight into this very good film.
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A Real Choker
writers_reign8 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is surely the basis for a Trivia question: In what film did Robert Mitchum commit suicide? Sad to say that's about as plausible as it gets. Mitchum, one of the least likely candidates for suicide in his generation of actors, here gives no indication that his psyche is so fragile that he will take such a drastic and final step. Almost the last thing he said was 'my conscience is clear' and he left Brian Ahearne's office as strong and well-adjusted as ever only to jump out of a window. Hilarious. Much has been made on this board of the flashback-within-flashback-within-flashback but not one of the posters I read (about 12) found anything but praise for this ludicrous situation in which someone 'remembers' an incident for which he/she was not present. For a flashback to have verisimilitude it must confine itself to what the narrator actually SAW and/or EXPERIENCED. For example if the narrator says something like ...'I met X for the first time in the automat. It was March ...' and we then DISSOLVE and witness the meeting via a flashback it is imperative that we remain WITH the narrator at all times. If, after meeting X in the automat they go their separate ways and WE follow X and NOT the narrator we are immediately cheating because neither WE nor the NARRATOR can KNOW for sure what X DID after leaving the automat. And that's only one of the problems with a SINGLE flashback. Here we have Brian Ahearne warning Gene Raymond not to go ahead with his marriage to Larraine Day and supporting this by narrating how HE, Ahearne, met Day (flashback #1) in turn he relates how Mitchum came to see HIM (Ahearne) with the news that Ahearne's wife, Day, was a murderess and was prepared to let an innocent man be executed in her place. This triggers flashback #2 so now he have Mitchum flashing back WITHIN Ahearne's own flashback and thus telling Ahearne things that Ahearne could not possibly recall in his OWN Master flashback to Raymond which is still, of course, in progress. In turn Mitchum is privy to Day's story of her childhood with is flashback #3 in which Day relates incidents which Mitchum could not know about much less Ahearne. Even within their own flashbacks the subjects are prone to leave the scene and allow us to follow third parties. The result is we have to suspend an awful lot of disbelief. As an experiment it is interesting but that's about all.
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Noir? Nah.
yonanimal2 September 2018
Caught this on TCM Noir Alley. No fan of Noir I was close to passing this up. Watched the very beginning and was hooked by the story. Nothing noir like but an interesting psychological drama and worth the price to see the mother of Joan Fontaine and Oliivia Haviland who I was unaware of in movies.
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That Precious Locket!
JLRMovieReviews6 March 2012
Laraine Day stars in what some movie critics may call her meatiest and most memorable role she ever had, that of a lying, manipulative, unbalanced young lady whose world can be turned over by the slightest change. Because of an event in her childhood, she holds steadfast to anything and anybody she can and won't give up without a fight. But of course, we really don't know this from the beginning. Now pay attention. We see Gene Raymond on his wedding day, set to marry Laraine. But there's an interruption. Brian Aherne has something to tell him that may make him think twice about marrying her. By way of a flashback, we see his story. Almost immediately we see Robert Mitchum, who has to tell Brian of how he met Laraine. Yes. Another flashback. Then in that one, Laraine tells Robert about her childhood. Another flashback. It may seem muddled to some, but this is a fascinating and a star-making role for Laraine Day. Anyone who's seen it is not likely to forget it or Ms. Laraine Day. I would get into more detail, but this film's crust is too delicious to read about. Watch and enjoy the many faces and facets of Laraine Day. How she lies!
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tour de force for Laraine Day!!!
kidboots21 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Who would have thought Laraine Day could have played a psychologically disturbed young woman. She spent most of her career playing sweet, young things. In "And One Was Beautiful" she played a pretty tomboy (not the beautiful one!!) who was around at the end to pick up the pieces. Of course her most famous role was Nurse Molly Lamont in the MGM series "Dr. Kildare". So she wasn't used to roles that required her to be bad let alone unbalanced.

From the world of Art to World War 11 England to a high society wedding - this psychological noir has it all. John Willis (Gene Raymond) is to be married to Nancy (Laraine Day) that day when Dr. Blair (Brian Aherne) visits and tells him a strange story. He had been married to Nancy during a whirl wind courtship. He in turn is visited by Norman Clyde (Robert Mitchum) who also has a strange tale. He is looking for Nancy, who can help a friend of his who is in Sing Sing on a charge of murder!!!

Norman had met Nancy at his art class a few years previously. She introduces him to her boss millionaire art critic Mr. Bonner (Ricardo Cortez) and after an exhibition Norman's reputation is made. During a party a bracelet goes missing. Norman then finds it in Nancy's bag. Nancy is not at all sorry at what has happened and in turn tells Norman what happened to her as a child.

Sharyn Moffatt was a terrific child actress of the 40s. She plays Nancy as a child and is excellent in the role. As a child she was accused of stealing a locket and even though innocent of the crime, was forced to confess. Norman thinks that is the root of her neurosis. Mr. Bonner is killed in mysterious circumstances and Norman finds Nancy's movements suspicious. Norman's story is finished but Dr. Blair doesn't believe him.

It is not the end of the film but the ending is certainly surprising. It is a super film and I highly recommend it.
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A gripping and enjoyable film noir
roger-pettit15 February 2012
Made in 1946, The Locket is an absorbing and very enjoyable film about a woman with some sort of psychological problem that emanates from her being falsely accused of the theft of a locket when she was a child. As a result, she has spent most of her adult life to date seemingly trying to get even with society generally for this erroneous slur on her character.

On the day of his wedding to Nancy Patton (Laraine Day), wealthy socialite John Willis (Gene Raymond) receives a visit from a psychiatrist, Dr. Blair (Brian Aherne). Dr. Blair tries to warn Willis off his proposed marriage on the grounds that his bride to be has ruined the lives of a number of people. He claims that she was at one time married to him and that she has, amongst other things, committed theft, murdered someone (a crime which resulted in the execution of an innocent man) and driven a previous boyfriend, portrait painter Norman Clyde (Robert Mitchum), to suicide. Things develop from there. I'll say no more than that.

The Locket is a film that requires more than the usual level of close concentration. It is complex in structure. Much of the film consists of a series of flashbacks. To make matters more complicated there are flashbacks within flashbacks and even, in one instance, a flashback within a flashback within a flashback! It is very well acted and the cinematography is, for the most part, excellent. The film has its faults. It is a little far-fetched in that no explanation is offered (or attempted) as to why Nancy resorts to such extreme acts of revenge, including murder seemingly, in order to pay society back as she sees it. Indeed, the whole issue of her personality disorder is dealt with very superficially. The external scenes that are set in London are unconvincing in that they give every indication that they were filmed inside a studio. And the conclusion of the film is rather too simplistic and convenient in plot terms. But somehow, none of those weaknesses seems to matter all that much. The Locket is a very watchable film. 9/10.
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You got him just were you want him, he's gonna make all the mistakes I did!
sol121817 July 2005
(Some Spoilers) Deep and intricate Film-Noir that makes a complete 360 degree turn from start to finish. Young Nancy Monkes, Laraine Day,was given a locket by her friend Karen Willis, Gloria Donovan, and was soon made to give it back by Karen's mom Mrs. Willis, Katherin Emery. Later the locket was lost and Nancy was suspected of stealing it.

Mrs. Monkes ,Helen Thimig, Nancy's mom who worked as a maid for the Willis household finds the missing locket, stuck in little Karen's dress, and returns it to Mrs Willis who then accuses both Nancy of stealing it and Mrs. Monkes of trying to cover up Nancy's transgression. Outraged of her daughter being accused of a crime and letting Mrs. Willis have it leads to Mrs. Monkes losing her job and Nancy suffering deep psychological scares for the rest of her life.

Nancy became a kleptomaniac and her actions destroyed the lives of four men that she knew. One whom's she obviously murdered one who was executed for that murder one who committed suicide and another who went mad and ended up in a sanitarium losing his license as both a doctor and psychiatrist.

The movie "the Locket" starts with what should be the happiest day in Nancy's life,as she's about to get married to John ,Gene Raymond, and ends with the secret of that "locket" and everything that it had to do with Nancy's past come crashing down on her. Harry Blair, Brian Aherne, goes to see John to tell him the truth about his future wife only to be told to either get out or be thrown out of the wedding ceremony which Harry wasn't even invited to.

It's then for some strange reason that Harry knew what Nancy's birthday was, November 3,got John's attention. Telling his story Harry goes back to 1938 when he first met Nancy in Miami but there was more to the story between him and Nancy, much much more. It turns out that Nancy had a previous lover before she met Harry an artist named Norman Clyde, Robert Mitchum,who together with Nancy covered up a murder that she may have committed.

A helpless Kleptomaniac Nancy had a habit of stealing jewelry at high society parties that she and Norman attended. At one of those parties she was caught stealing by one of the persons there her boss Drew Bonner, Richardo Contez, who was later found shot to death. Coming on the scene of Bonner's shooting was Myron Dexter, David Thursby, and with Dexter being the only person found at the murder site he was arrested convicted and sentenced to be executed at New York's Sing Sing prison. Sick and guilt-ridden Norman came to see and plead with Dr.Harry Blair to get his wife Nancy to come clean with the state D.A about Bonner's murder. Norman telling him that Dexter, an Innocent man, is to be executed within 24 hours.

When confronted with Normans story, as well as Norman himself, Nancy just shrugs it off telling Harry that Clyde is just jealous of her leaving him. Norman after a good night sleep, from taking the pills that Dr. Blair gave him, comes back to Dr. Blair's office the next day and is unusually clam even though the man who's life he tried to save had been snuffed out by the state of New York the night before. Knowing that he did everything possible that he could and with his consciences clear Norman, after having a casual talk with Dr. Blair, calmly walks out of his office and then jumps out of a window in the doctor's waiting room falling to his death on the streets below.

Harry Blair continuing his story telling John that he later realized, during his stay with Nancy in WWII London, that everything that Norman told him about her was true which lead him to suffer a complete mental and physical breakdown. This left Harry institutionalized for almost five years.

John,despite of what Harry told him, still determined to go through with his wedding to Nancy has the surprise of his life when his mother presents her with the very same locket that started Nancy's slow decent into madness! It was that reminder, of years past, that brought her back to reality and at the same time forced her to face all the damage that she did, to everyone who ever knew or loved her, over the years.
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