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

Saturday, January 12, 2008

WHIRLPOOL


WHIRLPOOL (1949). Director: Otto Preminger. NOTE: Plot points are mentioned in this critique.

Gene Tierney, the wife of a prominent psychiatrist (Richard Conte) is caught shoplifting when the ne'erdowell Jose Ferrer comes to her rescue. After using his influence to stifle the incident, Ferrer uses hypnotism to cure Tierney of her insomnia, but his real purpose is to frame her for a murder he plans to commit. His previous girlfriend (Barbara O'Neil) is threatening to go to the D.A. because he helped her embezzle money from her daughter's trust. Tierney is arrested for the crime, but her husband insists that Ferrer is the true murderer – the trouble is that Ferrer was in the hospital after an operation at the time of the murder. This is a very predictable suspense story that runs out of gas long before it's over. Every time Preminger tried one of these thrillers and mysteries (and that includes Laura) he would only show that he lacks the skill of an Alfred Hitchcock when it comes to handling this kind of material. Gene Tierney's performance will hold your attention, but it's also very affected and “actressy” and never real. Jose Ferrer isn't bad in a role that both George Sanders and Vincent Price could have made more of [the least attractive of this trio, it's hard to imagine Ferrer as some kind of lover boy with the ladies]. Richard Conte barely registers as the husband, but Charles Bickford is a bit better as the detective assigned to the case.

Verdict: Not very memorable. **.

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