Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

THE LOCKET

Robert Mitchum and Laraine Day
THE LOCKET (1946). Director: John Brahm.

"How could I ever have liked you, Norman? -- you're arrogant, suspicious, neurotic!"

John Willis (Gene Raymond) is just about to marry his fiancee, Nancy (Laraine Day of Foreign Correspondent), when a psychiatrist named Blair (Brian Aherne) bursts in, tells him he was once married to Nancy, and that Willis will be making a terrible mistake if he goes ahead with the wedding. What follows is a long flashback -- interrupted by two flashbacks within the flashback -- in which Blair relates his history with Nancy to Willis, including how an artist named Norman (Robert Mitchum) told him that Nancy had knowledge of a certain crime ... Since all the plot twists are part of the fun of The Locket I won't say any more, only that the movie is certainly psychologically dubious, but nevertheless fascinating, and quite entertaining. Day gives one of her best performances, resisting all chances to chew the scenery, and making it clear how so many men could fall for her despite her, uh, problems. Raymond and Aherne are fine, but a miscast Mitchum really just walks through the role of Norman and gives us absolutely no sign of his emotional torment [which makes one of his actions more surprising but also less believable]. Henry Stephenson and Ricardo Cortez are swell in smaller roles, and Katherine Emery scores as Willis' mother, who knew Nancy as a child in a pivotal flashback sequence. Brahm also directed Hangover Square and many others.

Verdict: Unusual and absorbing melodrama with a fine lead performance. ***.

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