Sunday, October 25, 2015

Movie review - "The Unsuspected" (1947) ***

This wasn't terribly highly regarded when it came out but over 50 years later it holds up very well, in part because it offers pleasures that were taken for granted at the time, but which nowadays we simply don't have any more: Claude Rains, Michael Curtiz direction, beautiful late 40s black and white photography, Warner Bros studio sheen, tropes famliar from other movies (amnesia, battles over a will, mysterious husband, murder).

There's a bunch of different protagonists - the mystery man (Ted North, who I'd never heard of but was quite good) of a niece of Claude Rains, radio star Claude Rains, the niece who turns up without a memory (Joan Caulfield).

Caulfield is a pretty, good girl so we can guess she'll survive - she has a bitchy cousin (Audrey Trotter) with a wastrel husband (Hurd Hatfield) so both those two look like they might die and we're not sure about North (the fact he wasn't famous adds to the suspense) or Jack Lambert as a dodgy associate of Rains or Constance Bennett as a radio producer. The film probably would have been cleaner had it been told entirely from the POV of amnesiac Caulfield - to give the audience someone to hook into.

It's spooky and entertaining - it has bits like the villain conning a heroine to write a suicide note to help him kill her later, which I thought was invented in A Kiss Before Dying.

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