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The Reckless Moment (1949)

After discovering the dead body of her teenage daughter's lover, a housewife takes desperate measures to protect her family from scandal.

Director:

Max Ophüls (as Max Opuls)

Writers:

Henry Garson (screen play), Robert Soderberg (screen play) (as Robert W. Soderberg) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Mason ... Martin Donnelly
Joan Bennett ... Lucia Harper
Geraldine Brooks ... Beatrice 'Bea' Harper
Henry O'Neill ... Tom Harper
Shepperd Strudwick ... Ted Darby
David Bair David Bair ... David Harper
Roy Roberts ... Nagel
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Storyline

In the charming community of Balboa 50 miles from Los Angeles, middle-class housewife Lucia Harper travels to Los Angeles to meet scoundrel, Ted Darby. Her seventeen year-old daughter Beatrice is in love with Ted. He asks for money to leave Bea, but Lucia refuses to give any. Bea does not believe her mother when told and during the night she sneaks out to the boat garage to meet Ted who admits that Lucia told the truth. Bea pushes him and Ted falls to his on an anchor. The next morning, Lucia finds the body and assumes that Bea has killed her lover. She decides to get rid of the corpse and puts it in her boat and dumps it far from home. When the police find Ted, a stranger, Martin Donnelly, visits Lucia to blackmail her on behalf of his partner, Nagel who has several letters Bea had written to Ted. Donnelly wants $5000 for the letters. The desperate Lucia tries to raise the amount. Martin falls in love with Lucia and tries to help her too. The dangerous Nagel wants to receive the ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It could happen to so many married women ! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 December 1949 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blank Wall See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$882,653 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$717,188, 31 December 1949
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For this movie and others made in Hollywood, the director is listed as "Opuls"; however, for his movies made in Europe the name is "Ophuls". His name at birth is Oppenheimer. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Lucia Harper: You don't know how a family can surround you at times.
Martin: Do you never get away from your family?
Lucia Harper: No.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Deep End (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Top notch suspense melodrama with excellent cast.
13 July 2001 | by haroldg-2See all my reviews

'The Reckless Moment' is Max Ophuls' excellent 1949 suspense melodrama, starring James Mason as a blackmailer who falls in love with his desperate victim (Joan Bennett).

Ophuls direction is superb, with the suspense mounting in every scene as housewife Bennett, mistakenly believing her daughter has killed a man, disposes the body and tries desperately to hide the girl's involvement from the police and her family. Then Mason appears, demanding money for incriminating love letters he has which the daughter had written to the dead man. The plot thickens from there, with Bennett trying to shield her family from scandal as the blackmailer begins to admire and then love the devoted housewife and mother.

James Mason is always excellent in sinister roles, and his performance here is one of his best, though his character's motivation isn't quite clear. By his own admission, he's a loser who's never done a decent thing in his life, so why he suddenly develops a conscience is never fully explained.

But who wouldn't fall in love with beautiful Joan Bennett, giving the performance of her career as the desperate mother who's commonplace life is suddenly turned upside down by crime and blackmail. Ophuls, who the year before had guided Joan Fontaine through one of her greatest performances in 'Letter From an Unknown Woman,' drew from Bennett her most natural, believable performance. She's never been better.

Highly recommended for the outstanding direction and two great stars in peak form.


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