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Beyond the Forest (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance | 21 October 1949 (USA)
Rosa Moline is bored with life in a small town. She loves Chicago industrialist Neil Latimer who has a hunting lodge nearby. Rosa squeezes her husband's patients to pay their bills so she ... See full summary »


King Vidor

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Rosa Moline
Joseph Cotten ... Doctor Louis Moline
David Brian ... Neil Latimer
Ruth Roman ... Carol Lawson
Minor Watson ... Moose Lawson
Dona Drake ... Jenny
Regis Toomey ... Sorren
Sarah Selby Sarah Selby ... Mildred Sorren


Rosa Moline is bored with life in a small town. She loves Chicago industrialist Neil Latimer who has a hunting lodge nearby. Rosa squeezes her husband's patients to pay their bills so she can visit Chicago; her husband's patience is also tried: he tells her to go and never come back. Once there, Neil tells her he doesn't want her. Back home and pregnant, Neil shows up and now wants her. The caretaker at Neil's lodge threatens to reveal her pregnancy... Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What a dump! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 October 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rosa Moline See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,300,000, 31 December 1949
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The movie's line "What a dump." was voted as the #62 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). See more »


Prior to visiting lawyer's office, Rosa wipes off all her make-up, then is seen wearing bright lipstick during a close-up in waiting room, which immediately disappears for rest of scene. See more »


Doctor Louis Moline: [to Rosa] I'm afraid you're not a very good gardener. You seem bent on destroying the flowers and cultivating the weeds. Give yourself a chance, Rosa. If a man whipped a dog like you whip yourself, you'd land in jail.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film begins after the opening credits with this warning title: This is the story of evil. Evil is headstrong - is puffed up. For our souls sake, it is salutory for us to view it in all it's ugly nakedness once in a while. Thus may we know how those who deliver themselves over to it end up like the scorpion, in a mad frenzy stinging themselves to eternal death. See more »


Referenced in Tamara Drewe (2010) See more »


For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
18th Century Folk Song
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User Reviews

Film Noir's "Madame Bovary"
16 March 2014 | by melvelvit-1See all my reviews

Is BEYOND THE FOREST an overripe and over-the-top potboiler or a potent, underrated film noir? Both, actually, with an emphasis on the latter. This is film noir's MADAME BOVARY wherein a provincial housewife's romantic fantasies and big city dreams bring tragedy to everyone in her orbit and it's the "twisted sister" of Vincente Minnelli's ode to Flaubert's driven, deluded anti-heroine, released the same year. Nineteen forty-nine was the year of the desperate housewife in Hollywood- in addition to Bette Davis & Jennifer Jones, there's also Audrey Totter in TENSION and Lizabeth Scott in TOO LATE FOR TEARS, postwar noir women who "expect and demand a better life and plan to achieve it by any means necessary".

Forty year-old Bette Davis "with her low-cut peasant blouses, long black wig, and carmine lips" is unquestionably miscast but, like the film itself, that actually works in a perverted sort of way. If Virginia Mayo had been cast (Davis actually lobbied for her), it would have begged the question, "why doesn't this beautiful girl just hop a bus to New York or Hollywood or something?" but with a not-so-young-anymore Rosa -out of options and rapidly running out of time- there's a palpable sense of entrapment as the irrational resentments that have simmered for far too long are ready to erupt. Still, the movie also has its amusing aspects and you can't help but smile as Rosa sashays down the street and all the men stop and stare. How could a past-her-prime, dimestore siren like that keep Joseph Cotten and David Brian in such thrall? Why, sex of course. Rosa no doubt did things in bed they couldn't get enough of, much like the hold Wallis Simpson had over the Duke of Windsor. The crime of Rosa Moline was similar to that of Phyllis Hochen in THE UNHOLY WIFE (desperate for a way out, she ends up shooting her husband's best friend) and from the overblown opening prologue scroll to the mounting hysteria and rampant symbols of Hell that culminate in a "shocking conclusion", Vidor's "Bovary" casts a spell as well. Written off as a "camp classic" for years, BEYOND THE FOREST has been reassessed of late:

Bette Davis tires of life married to a small-town doctor, so she takes off to Chicago for an affair, hopping the most monstrously phallic train in film history. Her frenzied performance is met on the other side of the camera by director King Vidor, who matches her excesses shot for shot. The "What a dump!" line quoted in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? originates here, though it's actually one of the film's more naturalistic moments. Much of Vidor's late work flirts dangerously with camp; this 1949 effort, I'm afraid, frequently succumbs, though it has a weird kind of power and integrity. With Joseph Cotten and David Brian. -Dave Kehr

BEYOND THE FOREST, with its main character's dissatisfaction with small- town middle-class morality, its big-city expressionistic mise-en-scène, and Davis, with the most extreme portrayal of a malignant bitch of the forties, we have a work that is firmly rooted in the tradition of film noir...this paean to amour fou is one of the most operatic of all films noirs -at once both moralistic and obdurate, grandly emotive, overbearing, and magnificent. -The American Film Noir

A TV perennial back in the day, legal hassles prevent King VIdor's unsung noir from being shown today. As of this writing, it's not in the Warner Archives and TCM hasn't aired it in well over a decade. That's a shame.

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