film 4 of 7


Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 2, 2015

Not a single misstep, and beyond the justifiably celebrated second half set pieces (the key at the party, the search in the wine cellar, Alicia’s discovery that she’s being poisoned and the superlative last rescue and last execution) one notices the astonishing control of the first half, all of the portentous whisperings (it’s a film played sotto voce), the pulled back pace made in/tolerable (in the best way) by well placed music, excellent dialogue, and dazzling performances; the stirrings of love, the exilarating and dangerous carnal flutterings that attend its birth, the disappointments of the promiscuous woman seeking affirmation and redemption, the cowardice of the self loathing man who won’t provide it, all show how this filmmaker created a new A-genre not only, or even not hardly by his stylistic virtuosity, but because he knew something about people, and worked with others who knew the same, and they all knew how to get it across; also pleasing are Louis Calhern’s very confident and humourous performance as the vainly capable boss, and of course the lovely Claude Rains, who has the film’s best voice and the film’s best heart, as a result the fateful last closing of the door is as shivery for our feeling that the wrong guy’s getting punished as for the closing of a great thriller