—A Fun Thriller That Deserves a Look—
Bogie Film Fix:
Director: Peter Godfrey
After losing his invalid wife, a depressed and troubled painter (Humphrey Bogart) marries another woman (Barbara Stanwyk), but the honeymoon phase of their relationship doesn’t last long.
What I Thought
My expectations were low after having seen a few poor reviews for this film, but I absolutely loved it. Bogart is creepy and menacing, Barbara Stanwyck is strong even while playing the damsel in distress, and the beautiful Alexis Smith gets time to shine as the bad girl – a far cry from the role that she played in Conflict.
What’s not to enjoy about this film? It may not be Hitchcock, but it’s still really good. There are some great tense moments between Bogart and Stanwyk, and Director Godfrey plays the plot twists with just the right touch as to not take away from the overall film. This is a very good thriller with a lot to love.
The actors are what makes this film work, and more than likely they help cover a few of the more bumpy spots in the script. Bogart’s final line makes this movie worth a viewing on its own!
Fair warning – multiple reviews that I’ve read online spoil some of the surprises, so if you don’t want to know too much, avoid them!
The Bogart Factor
Critics at the time said that Bogart was miscast as the dark and brooding artist, Geoffrey Carroll. The only thing “miscast” about this film was the art that was used to illustrate his talent. It was horrible and looked like something that I could have done with a couple of hours and a basic art set. Other than that, Bogart does very well here.
He’s creepy, conniving, prone to violent outbursts, and yet still able to come off as likable at times. He gets the chance to show a real range here, and it’s certainly a must see for any Bogart fans. If you paired this one with Conflict for a double-Bogart, double-thriller, double-feature, you’d have pretty good night of entertainment.
Barbara Stanwyk plays Sally Morton Carroll, the woman that Bogart has a brief affair with and then eventually marries after his first wife dies. Stanwyk does a nice job of balancing strength and terror in the role, and watching Bogart’s secrets slowly dawn on her makes for some of the film’s best moments. It’s nice to see her play a more sympathetic character after just watching her scheme and murder her way through Double Indemnity.
Alexis Smith plays family friend and rich young socialite, Cecily Latham. It’s an incredible treat to see here play a role so opposite of the young and naïve gal she portrayed in Conflict, and seeing her put on the charm to win over Bogart makes for a lot of fun as well. I really like Alexis Smith and I need to explore her filmography further.
Ann Carter steals many of her scenes as she plays Bogart’s cold and distant daughter, Beatrice Carroll. If sociopathic genes are passed on from one generation to the next, then this film could be a prime example of what that looks like. Carter is one of the better child actors that I’ve seen Bogart work with, and her aloofness is chilling. She seems to want nothing more in life than a good private school where she can ignore all the trouble that waits for her at home.
Barry Bernard plays Horace Blagdon, the sniveling little pharmacist that blackmails Bogart. While it’s not a huge role, it deserves a mention here. The character isn’t that fleshed out and is used mainly to add tension to the plot when needed, but Bernard plays it well and it’s a prime example of using a solid character actor to add color to a film.
Patrick O’Moore plays Barbara Stanwyk’s ex, Charles Pennington. To be honest, I kind of forgot that he was in the film until I looked up the cast list to do this post. Not that he was bad, just not all that memorable.
Classic Bogie Moment
One of the best expressive moments of Bogart’s career! He realizes the jig is up, and almost looks directly into the camera, as he rolls his eyes in a wonderful “Oh, s**t!” moment!
The Bottom Line
I’m already anxious to rewatch this one, and highly recommend it!