Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1947. Mercury Productions. Screenplay by Orson Welles, based on the novel If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King. Cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.. Produced by Orson Welles. Music by Heinz Roemheld. Production Design by Sturges Carne, Stephen Goosson. Costume Design by Jean Louis. Film Editing by Viola Lawrence.
One of Orson Welles‘ most celebrated non-Kane projects, this one had, as usual for him, a difficult path to completion, including a longer 155-minute cut that studio head Harry Cohn forced him to cut to the 90-minute version we have surviving today. Welles plays a contented vagrant who is walking through a park when he happens to save a beautiful woman (Rita Hayworth, who was Mrs. Welles at the time) from being mugged. Escorting her safely home, she offers him a job working for her husband, who turns out to be a wealthy, powerful divorce attorney who has represented some pretty impressive criminals. The job is working on the couple’s glamorous yacht, which Welles takes and soon finds himself drawn into a dark and dirty web of sex and sin as his passion for Hayworth increases, as does his suspicion that she wants him to commit a murder for her. The story is a series of convoluted turns, I find this one harder to follow than The Big Sleep, but it features some of the most beautifully shot scenes of the decade and the concluding sequence in a hall of mirrors, which has been referenced by just everybody since, is dynamite.