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

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Zachary Scott and Ann Sheridan
THE UNFAITHFUL (1947). Director: Vincent Sherman.

While her husband is out of town, Chris Hunter (Ann Sheridan) returns from a party and is attacked in her home, ultimately killing her assailant. Chris tells her husband, Bob (Zachary Scott), as well as the police, that she never met the man, a sculptor named Tanner. But if that's the case, why did Tanner do a bust of a woman who looks exactly like Chris Hunter, and why are some people offering it to her husband for sale ..? This is an excellent Americanized variation on, and post-WW2 updating of, The Letter, but it takes awhile for the viewer to realize it as it has so many interesting elements of its own. Sheridan [Nora Prentiss] gives one of her best performances, and has an especially good moment when she has a heart to heart talk with her husband about things she did when he was overseas and why she did them. Zachary Scott [Ruthless] is also excellent, as is Lew Ayres [Damian: Omen 2] as the friend and lawyer who comes to the couple's assistance. Eve Arden certainly scores in the somewhat edgier-than-usual role of Bob's cousin, Paula, and the dialogue [by David Goodis and James Gunn] as she tries to explain Chris' wartime actions to Bob is trenchant and memorable. Marta Mitrovich is quietly effective as the angry widow, Mrs. Tanner; Steven Geray suitably oily as a kind of blackmailer and art dealer; Jerome Cowan appropriately wily as a prosecutor; and John Hoyt ever-grim as a suspicious police detective. This is probably director Vincent Sherman's [The Damned Don't Cry] finest hour and a half. A first-rate score by Max Steiner and fine Ernest Haller photography complete the ensemble.

Verdict: A snappy, sophisticated picture that on its own terms is nearly as good as the original ***1/2.

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