Monday, March 16, 2015


Steve Corey (Steve Cochran) is an engineer who is in Mexico to work on a project for Paul Beckmann (Curt Jurgens). When he arrives at Paul's home, a fancy cocktail party is in full swing and Steve feels out of place until he is befriended by Katherine (Merle Oberon), Paul's somewhat tightly-strung half-sister. They hit it off, but in a private moment when Katherine tells Paul that Steve reminds her of her former boyfriend Gus, Paul flies off the handle and we don't know why. In the worst "day-for-night" scene ever, Katherine walks Steve to the guest house on the estate, then he walks her to her lavish home a few blocks away. He kisses her, she tears at his clothes, he freaks out for a minute, but they eventually give in to their desires. The next deay, when Paul realizes they've slept together, he becomes jealous (eww) and invites her ex-lover Gus (John Agar) along on a boat party. Sure enough, Gus and Katherine get up to their old tricks, though what Gus does verges on rape—an example of his sweet talk: "I wanna press the button and watch you melt"—and the next morning, when Steve arrives on the boat, she slashes her wrists. After she's patched up, Paul explains to Steve that Katherine's nymphomaniacal behavior is because she's searching for the lost passion she had with her first lover Richard who died in the war. But is there more to it than that? And what's behind the rather perverse jealousy that Paul feels for Katherine?

This is a cheaply-made, poorly-shot melodrama with bad sound that I still managed to enjoy for its occasional campy histrionics. Cochran and Oberon have no chemistry, partly because their acting styles clash (she's doing soap opera acting, he's going more naturalistic), but I liked each one individually. And it was nice to see two middle-aged people engaged in an affair, rather than the older-man/younger-woman pairing that we so often. Jurgens is very good in his climactic declaration to Oberon—I don't think it’s really a spoiler to note that there are incestuous feelings at play—and when she runs away from him, she winds up in a campy scene in which the streets which are filled with men seemingly clutching at her, a moment which reminded me of a scene in L'AVVENTURA, though Antonioni pulls it off with more class and subtlety. Steve Brodie has a small role as another old lover of Oberon's. My last comment: at 46, Cochran still looked good in skimpy bathing trunks (see picture). [FMC]

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