Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1949. Columbia Pictures. Screenplay by Helen Deutsch, Samuel Fuller. Cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.. Produced by Helen Deutsch, S. Sylvan Simon. Music by George Duning. Production Design by Carl Anderson. Costume Design by Jean Louis. Film Editing by Gene Havlick.
Cornel Wilde plays a parole officer who tries to keep his personal feelings hidden when a gorgeous woman (Patricia Knight, the real Mrs. Wilde at the time) who is also a convicted murderer sweeps into his office after being let out for good behaviour. He lays down the rules for what is expected of her while on parole, including the fact that she can’t be seen consorting with the bad types that got her into trouble in the first place, but Knight walks right out of his office and straight into the arms of her shady ex-boyfriend. Determined to make sure she doesn’t ruin her chance at turning her life around, Wilde gives her a job working in his own house as assistant to his blind mother before finally having to acknowledge that he’s madly in love with her. He has trouble finding the line between love and control when she gets arrested again and he walks out on his job and family, high-tailing it with her to the border and hoping to start a new life together. The combination of director Douglas Sirk’s plush aesthetics and co-writer Samuel Fuller’s hard-edged, ripped from the headlines style shouldn’t be successful given how different these two artists were, but Sirk’s stylish camerawork adds a touch of movie star lustre that allows for a sense of dramatic licence at the point that the script starts to lose its credibility; at the beginning the details are convincing, by the end it’s basically a romance novel, and you find yourself grateful for it.