Monday, December 21, 2015


Up-and-coming singer Gloria Grahame returns home from a radio appearance and argues with her discoverer and mentor (Maureen O'Hara); Grahame, who sings under the name Estrellita, wants to quit the business and O'Hara, who had to retire when she lost her voice, is angry. After the bedroom door closes, a shot rings out; when the police arrive, they find a wounded Grahame, and an all-too-willing confessor to the crime in O'Hara. Melvyn Douglas, O'Hara’s former lover, doesn't believe that she shot Grahame, and an extended flashback tells how O'Hara and Douglas found Grahame—Douglas says she has "a voice with hormones"—and trained her as an entertainer. Along the way, Grahame gets tired of being just a puppet for O'Hara and starts getting ideas, including dating two men, a lawyer (Victor Jory) and an ex-GI (Bill Williams). So we have plenty of characters who might be suspects, and detective Jay C. Flippen tries to sort things out.

This is a moderately interesting mix of soap opera and film noir, but ultimately things work out in a milquetoastish way leading to a disappointing ending. The acting is good, especially from O'Hara who gets a character with a little more depth than usual—we want to like her, but we also know that her losing her singing voice has twisted her a bit. I was tempted to read a same-sex attraction between her and her protégé, but I’m not sure that reading would fly—though people's motives remain ambiguous throughout. Grahame and Douglas are fine, and Jory has a rare sympathetic role. Comic relief is provided by Flippen and his wife (Mary Philips) who becomes like a Watson to his Holmes—I liked their banter at first, but it got a little tiresome and distracting. Directed by Nicholas Ray who married Grahame not long after filming was complete. [TCM]

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