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

Thursday, April 14, 2011


POSSESSED (1947). Director: Curtis Bernhart.

"We're all on the outside of other people's lives looking in."

Louise Howell (Joan Crawford) is a nurse for a sick, jealous woman (Nana Bryant) who thinks she's carrying on with her husband, Dean Graham (Raymond Massey). In truth, Louise is obsessed with an engineer named David Sutton (Van Heflin), who simply doesn't feel the same way about her. "I seldom hit a woman but if you don't leave me alone I'll wind up kicking babies," Sutton tells her. Louise marries Graham after his wife's death, but goes over the edge when the playing-with-fire Sutton starts dating her step-daughter, Carol (Geraldine Brooks). Watch out, David! Possessed can't seem to make up its mind if it's a psychological study, a thriller of a woman scorned, a story of unrequited love -- it almost turns into a ghost story at one point -- and doesn't quite succeed at any of them. Crawford's occasional over-acting could be blamed on the fact that she's playing a lady with a screw loose, but despite claims by other characters that Louise isn't legally responsible for her actions, she seems to know exactly what she's doing all right. Brooks is fine in her second film, Heflin is excellent as usual, and Raymond Massey is Raymond Massey. Many fans greatly admire Crawford's performance in this but she was, frankly, better in many other films. A big problem with Possessed is that while it holds the attention, it isn't a whole lot of fun.

Verdict: half-baked, semi-hysterical, and all over the lot. **1/2.

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