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Staring Claudette Colbert, Robert Cummings, Don Ameche, George Coulouris, with support coming from Rita Johnson & Raymond Burr. Directed by Douglas Sirk, adapted by St. Clair McKelway (Cy Endfield & Decla Dunning uncredited) from a novel by Leo Rosten, scored by Rudy Schrager and Joseph Valentine provides the cinematography.
Practically brushed aside by its director, pulled from pillar to post by the genre assignment police, and called everything from a woman's melodrama to a psychological film noir, Sleep, My Love is a film that one could easily be led to believe is just not very good, or at best, confusing. Nether of the last two statements apply as far as I'm concerned.
Firstly it has to be said (since every amateur reviewer in the land has done thus far) this is closer to the likes of Gaslight (Re: Thornton Square et al) than any femme/homme fatale driven piece of cinema. Secondly it should be noted that it's no surprise Sirk turned his nose up at the finished film, because it's a far cry from the "woman's" pictures that would make and solidify his career. What we get is a tight, if formulaic, story, that is mostly acted competently and is filmed quite excellently with an expressionistic bent by Valentine.
Very early on in the piece we are privy to just what is going on, something that those who crave a mystery element may find an irritation. But here's the thing, the atmospherics on offer are enough to carry the viewer through to the finale, where, we await the outcome of the villainous dalliances that have made up the plot. Along the way we have been treated to a number of potent scenes, such as the rushing train opener and a balcony hold your breath moment. Then there's the house itself, wonderfully moody with its looming staircase, it's constantly swathed in shadows as Valentine utilises it to the maximum to make it an imposing character all by itself. In fact fans of shadow play should love the goods here since the film is 98% filmed with shadows.
There's some issues (naturally). Ameche is weak as the treacherous husband, and when one finds that the hulking and deathly sullen eyed Burr is underused, one can't help think that the film would have greatly benefited from those two swapping roles. Hazel Brooks as the "other woman" is also badly underused, an annoyance since what little we do get hints at a sizzling and murky affair that begged to be fleshed out more in the noir tradition. And boy what a pair of legs did our Hazel possess!
It's a damn fine film in spite of the little itches, one that deserves a bit more support than it actually gets. As for what genre it does belong to? Well psychological melodrama filmed in a film noir style sits about right one feels. 7.5/10
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