Monday, January 13, 2003


Jean Renoir's B-film noir that mostly manages to transcend its low budget to become an interesting exercise in sparse, minimalist atmosphere. Robert Ryan is a shell-shocked sailor who is now a Coast Guard officer patrolling a stretch of beach filled with dead hulls of ships. He meets up with Joan Bennett during one of her walks along the beach and they begin a moody and mostly unsatisfying dalliance behind her husband's back. Charles Bickford is the husband, an embittered blind artist who we come to believe may be faking his handicap. Irene Ryan has a small part as a shopkeeper. Although none of the main trio of actors are favorites of mine, they all do fine jobs here as tortured individuals. Bickford goes a bit over the top, but that bit of excess helps to balance out the stagy and undernourished look of the film. Occasionally the whole thing feels unfinished, but it's still worth catching for the unique atmosphere.

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