Saturday, February 11, 2006

Deceitul, Murderous Delight: The Two Mrs. Carrolls

Barabara Stanwyck and Humphrey Bogart aren't their usual selves in The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947). She is not the femme fatale, and he isn't the hardboiled private eye. Lovers after a chance encounter, Bogart and Stanwyck wed shortly after Bogart's first wife passes away. This second Mrs. Carroll begins to bore Bogart, however, as she fails to inspire his paintings as she once did. However, a new muse has entered his life, played by Alexis Smith. Soon, Mrs. Carroll falls ill, with symptoms much like the first Mrs. Carroll's before she passed away...

Director Peter Godfrey, while delivering a solid noir-melodrama, reuses much of the imagery and tension that Alfred Hitchcock used in his film Suspicion (1941): the shot of Bogart holding the poisoned glass of milk is a straight copy of Cary Grant in the earlier film. Both films, however, distinguish themselves in different ways. Hitchcock's film is a family-sized red herring served on a silver platter; Godfrey, on the other hand, consummates the tale of deceit and delivers a murderer at the end of the film. Thomas Job's script (from the play by Martin Vale) is excellently written, with smart dialogue and a handful of wry stock characters (the grumpy maid, the elderly fisherman) that, as often is the case, are the most memorable parts of the film.

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