Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1947. RKO Radio Pictures. Screenplay by Frank Davis, Jean Renoir, adaptation by J.R. Michael Hogan, based on the novel by Mitchell Wilson. Cinematography by Leo Tover, Harry J. Wild. Produced by Jack J. Gross. Music by Hanns Eisler. Production Design by Albert S. D’Agostino, Walter E. Keller. Costume Design by Edward Stevenson. Film Editing by Lyle Boyer, Roland Gross.
Shell shocked and recuperating from his experiences in the war, Robert Ryan goes on frequent walks that take him past a mysterious woman (Joan Bennett) he sees, as the title suggests, gathering wood on the beach. Despite having a handy carpenter wife at home, Ryan can’t help but be drawn into this woman’s miserable world, her life at home taking care of an increasingly paranoid blind painter (Charles Bickford) who Ryan feels drags her down. This cut and dry, minor feature is an oddity in the oeuvre of director Jean Renoir, a film that is neither particularly stylish nor moving but does have its moments of intelligent poignancy and is certainly no failure for its performers. Bickford’s character, a painter who refuses to let go of the works he can no longer access, could be Renoir addressing his paternal lineage, though the parallels are so plain that it almost makes seems an insulting insinuation.