Sunday, September 29, 2002


A solid noirish melodrama; it might have come off a little better with a stronger leading actor, but it's certainly worth seeing. The film begins with Robert Young on trial for murder; the rest of the story is his flashback testimony of how he wound up in this jam. Stuck in an unhappy marriage with a rich woman (Rita Johnson), Young engages in a flirtation with Jane Greer that's about to get pretty serious until the wife butts in and buys him a partnership in a brokerage firm. He breaks things off with Greer and moves out to the West Coast, and eventually starts another fling, this time with sexy golddigger Susan Hayward. The wife again takes action, buys him *out* of his job and isolates the two of them in a mountain home where he's kept on a tight leash. Soon, he gets up the gumption to run off with Hayward, but in that film noir way, fate intervenes with ironic and deadly twists and turns until Young winds up acccused of murder, which he didn't commit, even though he does bear some "cosmic" moral responsibility for the situation; he did have murder in his heart, he lied, he betrayed his wife, and maybe worst of all in the film noir universe, was too weak to take control of his own life. The way that Greer comes back into the movie is perhaps its most interesting twist, except for its nicely ironic ending.

Though the setting is mostly out in nature rather than on dark, rainy streets, it still has a strong noir feeling in the same way that OUT OF THE PAST, also set out in nature (and also with Jane Greer) did. The plot and the characterization of the leading male brought to mind DOUBLE INDEMNITY. Both Young and Fred MacMurray play rather weak men dealing with conflicting impulses of good and evil, and both went on to greater stardom playing passive father figures on 50's & 60's TV. Young leaves a little bit to be desired in the lead role, but the rest of the acting is good. I don't always like Susan Hayward, but she's very good here. I hadn't heard much about this movie, but I recommend catching it if it crops up on TCM again.

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