Wednesday, November 02, 2016


At a wartime Mardi Gras celebration, Toni (Nancy Coleman) is making the rounds with wealthy playboy Guy (George Meeker) when, at a crowded restaurant, she makes eye contact with Dick (Philip Reed, pictured with Coleman), a lonely soldier on furlough. They hook up on the dance floor and he talks her into spending the night with him. The next morning, he says he'll be back in six weeks and they arrange to meet again at the same restaurant, but when the time comes, his leave is cancelled and he can't make it. He sends a letter explaining, but the slightly drunken restaurant manager (Felix Bressart) overlooks it and poor Toni is left alone—and pregnant. She goes to New York to talk to her sister Renee (Margaret Lindsay), whose husband is in the Navy and will be overseas for some time. They hatch a plan: Toni will give the baby to Renee who will claim it as her own, even fooling her husband. The plan works for a while, but in a year or so Toni has second thoughts and tries to talk Renee into giving her the baby back. Renee does not want to, and even tells Toni to stay away from New York for at least three years. Eventually, back in New York City, Toni makes a half-hearted effort to kidnap her baby, while Dick returns from the war and searches for her in New Orleans.

This rather routine melodrama is notable for a few reasons: it's the little-seen work of cult B-director Edgar G. Ulmer, it was restored recently by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and it's the rare Production Code movie of the time that allowed an unwed mother to escape at the end unpunished by death or tragedy. The first half, especially the scenes set in New Orleans, have nearly an A-budget feel to them, though in the second half, both the narrative and the production suffer a bit. Coleman, Reed and Bressart are very good, as are Regis Toomey as Renee's husband and Henry Stephenson as the sisters' father. Lindsay feels a bit restrained, like she didn’t get much direction. George Meeker's character seemed potentially the most interesting character, but he's given little screen time. Solid if generally predictable. [TCM]

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