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>
Caught is directed by Max Ophüls and adapted to screenplay by Arthur Laurents from the novel Wild Calendar written by Libbie Block. It stars Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan, James Mason, Frank Ferguson and Curt Bois. Music is by Frederick Hollander and cinematography by Lee Garmes.
Seeking to make a comfy nest by marrying a rich man, Leonora Eames (Geddes) snags more than she bargained for when Smith Ohlrig (Ryan) becomes the man of her life. And then circumstance brings Doctor Larry Quinada (Mason) in to her life and things will never be the same again...
Psychological swirls a go go in this fine piece of work. Story was changed somewhat by Ophüls after he was brought in as a last directing throw of the dice. Softening the harsh edges of Leonora's original persona on the page, he brings about a sort of piggy in the middle scenario. On one side she has a tyrant control freak of a husband, on the other she has a good honest gentleman doctor keen to impart his love to her life. It sounds an easy choice to make, but circumstance, the vagaries of noirish fate - of life affirming decisions, doesn't make this a straight forward narrative piece.
Smith Ohlrig is based on Howard Hughes, who surprisingly didn't kick up too much of a fuss once the word got out. This is one troubled character, mean and controlling, superbly portrayed by a chilling Robert Ryan, it's just a pity there isn't time in the piece for more of Ryan's forceful nastiness. The best scenes feature Ryan, the shamble of the marriage is adroitly filmed by Ophüls around the gloomy Ohlrig mansion, with reverse shots, perception tinkerings and isolated shadow play emphasising the relationship from hell - the impact of Lee Garmes' (Nightmare Alley) photography and the art direction of Frank Paul Sylos (The Great Flamarion) also not to be under estimated.
Leonora is a well written character, it would have been easy to have her as weak willed and spineless, but there's a strong feminist bent afforded her by the makers, giving her some guts and intelligence to off set the desperate situation she will find herself in later in the play. Geddes ticks all the right boxes for the emotional requirements of the role, never over doing the histrionics. Mason saunters into the pic with a grace and elegance that made the American market sit up and take notice, a class act and he fits the role perfectly. Ophüls steers this one admirably throughout, arriving at a culminating finale that's guaranteed to make you have conflicting feelings. 8/10
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