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
Joan Bennett highlights Max Opuls' nuanced, ironic film noir
The sultry temptress of Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street and The Woman in the Window, Joan Bennett dons spectacles and a harried mien as a respectable mother in a California coastal town. Family life is proving nettlesome, what with a husband traveling the globe on business, a teenage son drawn to inappropriate states of attire, and two live-ins, a father-in-law and a cook/housekeeper. The nettle-in-chief, however, is her handful of a daughter (Geraldine Brooks). Like her predecessor Veda Pierce, she fancies herself a worldly woman and has taken up with a penniless but pretentious lecher, who winds up dead. Bennett's battle to cover up the death becomes the story's meat. Into the mix ambles James Mason, wanting $5-grand for incriminating love letters.... Mason, with an Irish lilt, is the film's most intricately shaded character (and he gets top billing) but Bennett delivers a controlled, expert performance, possibly her finest. The star of The Reckless Moment, however, is the great Max Ophuls (though the directorial credit has it "Opuls"). Displaying evocative chiaroscuro -- Burnett Guffey was cinematographer -- and voluptuous slow takes, Ophuls creates a rich texture ranging from shabby seaside respectability to the grungy sidewalks of nearby Los Angeles. This splendidly nuanced work has emerged as one of the standouts of the noir cycle, its ironies so understated that their oppressive weight isn't felt until long after the film has unspooled.
50 of 54 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this