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

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Bogart contemplates his actions
CONFLICT (1945). Director: Curtis Bernhardt.

Richard Mason (Humphrey Bogart) has a bit of a problem. He's married to the somewhat demanding Kathryn (Rose Hobart of Mr. and Mrs. North), but hopelessly in love with her beautiful younger sister, Evelyn (Alexis Smith). What to do? What to do?The audience learns early on that Mason intends to murder his wife, but the fun is waiting to see how he does it, if he succeeds, and how and if he'll get caught. Bogart had no problem playing [somewhat sympathetic] villainous roles, as he also did in The Two Mrs. Carrolls (also with Alexis Smith), which his homely mug might have forced him to do in some alternate universe anyway. Bogart is fine, but he has formidable [in every sense of the word] competition from Sydney Greenstreet, as Dr. Hamilton, a friend of the Masons; Hobart and Smith are also good. The twists in the picture lead to a predictable but satisfying conclusion. Charles Drake plays a young professor who's in love with Evelyn, and you may not believe whom she prefers. Conflict is a smooth, well-played, and well-paced time-passer, thanks to director Bernhardt, and while not in the league of a Hitchcock classic, the picture  holds the attention and has some suspense. Supposedly Jack Warner offered this script to Joan Crawford for her first Warner Brothers assignment and wanted her to play the role of Kathryn, which is really just a supporting part -- she wisely took Mildred Pierce instead. It would have been interesting to see Bogart and Crawford together, however.

Verdict: Bogie is a bad boy. **1/2.

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