Two ghosts attend an engagement party, unseen by the other guests. One ghost, Dupont, is the father of the bride-to-be. He looks back on his marriage to her mother. His wife Annette was ... See full summary »
It was Leonora Eames' childhood dream come true. She had married Smith Ohlrig, a man worth millions. But her innocent dream became a nightmare once she realizes the truth about her husband - he is power mad and insane! Since he will not grant her a divorce, she leaves her life of luxury on Long Island and goes to work as a receptionist in an impoverished doctor's office in NYC's lower east side. After Smith deceives her into a temporary reconciliation, Leonora becomes pregnant. By the time she realizes she is expecting, she and one of the doctors, Larry Quinada (James Mason), have fallen in love. But she is again lured backed to her wealthy husband to give her child financial security. Her sadistic husband is hell-bent on keeping her and her child prisoner. What will happen to Leonora?Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I wonder if Howard Hughes saw this devastating portrait based on himself. Actually, the movie's Smith Ohlrig (Ryan) makes Citizen Kane's portrait of newspaper tycoon Hearst look like a boy scout by comparison. In fact, the great Robert Ryan is downright scary in the part, towering over everyone else and just as mean.
Also indicted are capitalism's commercial values as evidenced in Leonora's (Bel Geddes) unthinking pursuit of a wealthy man and a mink coat, for which she gets a real education. Catch the excellent screenplay's first and last scenes to get the rounded message.
Bel Geddes is perfect as the impressionable girl with good instincts, caught up in a popular culture stressing wealth as life's great panacea. All in all, her journey amounts to a spiritual one, traversing noirish worlds from lavish wealth to extreme poverty, at the same time, uncovering a new set of values more associated with the world's great religions than with symbols of status.
Surprisingly, the movie's dark panorama is rather poetically rendered by director Ophuls' famously fluid camera. There are no sudden jerks or abrupt edits to jolt viewers recognition. Instead, it's Ohlrig's dastardly behavior that leaves no doubt. In fact, I think the movie's message would be stronger were his behavior softened somewhat.
There are a number of memorable scenes, especially where the servile Franzi (Bois) torments Leonora with bad piano playing. Also, catch that beautifully done scene where Hoffman (Ferguson) delicately queries his fellow doctor's (Mason) relationship with Leonora, knowing that she's pregnant. Note too, how often the characters second-guess the motives behind what others say. It's an especially thoughtful screenplay.
Too bad the film is not better known. Perhaps it's because the central character is a woman, unusual for noir. Then too, the 90-minutes sharply question America's great secular religion—commercialism. One thing for sure— the movie's not a Howard Hughes production.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this