Wednesday, October 08, 2014


During the winter after Germany's defeat in WWII, a sad, emaciated woman (Ingrid Thulin) is traveling on a train to Paris. She seems completely oblivious to her surroundings; when a small child tinkers with the door and falls out to his death, she doesn't react at all. Her fellow passengers assume she's cold and unfeeling, but we see the concentration camp tattoo on her wrist. She's heading to Paris to see her husband (Maximilian Schell, pictured with Thulin), whom she hasn’t seen since she, as a Jew, was rounded up and sent to a camp five years earlier. Their relationship was not one of great passion: he was a penniless but handsome and charming chess player and she, a well-off doctor, was essentially his sugar mama. But now, she discovers that he assumes that she died. When they meet, he notices her resemblance to his wife and asks her to join him and Thulin's stepdaughter (Samantha Eggar) in a plan to claim her money, which neither one can get their hands on since Thulin's remains were never found. This might serve as the entire premise for a thriller, but here, Thulin "comes out" as herself to Schell fairly quickly. She gets back into her practice and claims her money and property; what she doesn't know is that Schell and Eggar are lovers, and might not be above murder to get what they want out of Thulin. This twisty thriller is very well acted by all three main cast members, and it's largely a three-person show, though Herbert Lom, as a friend and admirer of Thulin's, is also good, and his character is crucial to the climax. The concentration camp background is a bit of a cheat, as it ends up not really being important to the story. If you're a movie thriller fan, this will seem fairly predictable, but along the way, there are some interesting turns. At one point, a bathtub scene conjures up DIABOLIQUE, but the echo remains that just that. The glossy black & white cinematography gives the movie a noir feel—as does the fact that much of the action takes place at night. This underrated little mystery is well worth seeing. [TCM/DVD]

No comments: