This film is a chilling portrait of evil. Not blatant evil like murder, but evil of a subtle and sinister type.WARNING - In order to review this film and discuss its meaning, I have to reveal the ending. So . . . if you don't want to know what happens in the end, please don't read this until after you have seen the film.
Norman Clyde is a struggling artist who has the misfortune of falling for Nancy. He is a very sympathetic character. He is a very moral and man and this causes him such guilt about his failure to stop an innocent man from being executed that he kills himself. The suicide was a surprise, and I felt a bit too melodramatic for my taste. It was out of character, and I wish that the screenwriter could of come up with a more plausible fate for Norman.
Dr. Blair did not stand out much as a character. While he was sympathetic, he tended to let things happen to him, rather than initiate events. Maybe he was what one expect a typical psychiatrist of the era to be like.
Nancy was the character we love to hate. Today she might be classified as a sociopath. She is a user, sees people as a means to achieve her own ends, and does not care about the feelings of the people she uses. She twists and uses people throughout the film, and I was glad to see she got her just deserts and ended up in a mental hospital. This, of course, is following the Hollywood motion picture morality of the time, that is, that the guilty must pay.
Dr. Blair’s mother is a minor character, but she has a major role in Nancy’s final breakdown. She is not a sympathetic character, and is quite a hateful and dishonourable person.
Robert Mitchum is great in this strange tale of mental illness. The supporting actors are excellent as well.
The structure of the opening of the film is well done. The first three minutes seem totally boring, but then an event happens that grabs your interest so strongly, you will not want to take your eye of the screen. The most intriguing aspect of this film is the multiple-flashback structure. You may have to concentrate to be aware of what is going on. However, the flashbacks (and flashbacks within flashbacks) are so well done that there is no chance of getting lost. The flashbacks are not there just for an artsy-fartsy effect. They are necessary to the structure of the plot.
A riveting and fascinating movie in spite of its age and black and white presentation.
I would hope that a remastered DVD copy will one day be available. I would love to add it to my DVD collection.A person’s actions can have consequences, and the evil a person does may come back to destroy the person.