Having concealed her daughter's accidental killing of her seedy older lover, upper middle class housewife Bennett finds herself being blackmailed by a loan shark; fortunately for her, the man he sends - small-time crook and loner Mason - becomes infatuated with Bennett, and ends up killling his partner. Ophüls' noir melodrama, like his previous film, Caught, can be seen as a subtle, subversive critique of American ambitions and class-structures: in committing the moral and legal transgression of concealing a corpse, Bennett is merely protecting the comfort and respectability of her family life, and the irony is that Mason's self-sacrifice, made on her behalf, simply serves to preserve the status quo that has relegated him to the role of social outcast. This sense of waste, however, is implied rather than emphasised by Ophüls' elegant, low key direction, which counterpoints the stylisation of Burnett Guffey's shadowy photography with long, mobile takes that stress the everyday reality of the milieu. A marvellous, tantalising thriller, it also features never-better performances from Mason and Bennett.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Mel Dinelli, Robert Kent, Robert W Soderberg, Henry Garson|