Tuesday, July 09, 2002


This has been described by one critic as "women's noir." It's a long movie, nearly two hours, and for much of its running time, it is basically a romantic melodrama shot in a noir style, with the emphasis on city streets and shadows. Kent Smith is a somewhat mousy doctor with a wife and two kids, who lives a life of routines and ruts. Ann Sheridan, the title character, is a nightclub singer who is involved in a minor car accident outside Smith's office. He comes to her aid and a flirtation develops. Soon, he is having a full-fledged affair with her and his home and professional lives begin to suffer. The noir twist comes when an opportunity to leave his old life and start over with Sheridan crops up, involving switching identities with a dead man. Of course, if you've seen any noir (or read Cornell Woolrich or James Cain), you know this can lead to no good.

I won't give away the twists except to say that the title emphasis on Sheridan is, I think, rather misplaced. She's sexy and she's an adultress, but she's not really what I think of as the typical femme fatale. Leonard Maltin says that she ruins his life, but it seemed to me that Smith was the maker of his own downfall much more than Sheridan was responsible (unless you're the kind of misogynist who blames women for all of men's problems!). At any rate, it's worth seeing for its gloomy noir atmosphere and for the interesting twists it takes in the last half hour. It is, however, awfully slow getting to the climax. Smith and Sheridan are both quite good--she is about as sexy as I've ever seen her, and that's saying a lot. She also gets to sing a couple of songs in a nightclub setting, and though she is fine, the numbers feel like padding in an already somewhat bloated movie. John Ridgely, a handsome Warners supporting player whose career I tend to follow, has a small but crucial part in the proceedings--I didn't even recognize him at first.

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