Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1952. The Beckworth Corporation. Story by Virginia Van Upp, Berne Giler, Screenplay by Oscar Saul, James Gunn. Cinematography by Joseph Walker. Produced by Vincent Sherman. Music by George Duning. Production Design by Walter Holscher. Costume Design by Jean Louis. Film Editing by Viola Lawrence. Academy Awards 1952.
Rita Hayworth is a nightclub dancer in the still British-controlled Trinidad who is told by police, in the film’s opening, that her painter husband has been found dead in his boat in an apparent suicide. The inquest into his death is inconveniently timed with the arrival on the island of the deceased husband’s brother (Glenn Ford), who has to come in response to a letter he received from him on the day of his death. In his attempt to get to the bottom of what he believes is a murder, Ford gets chilly treatment from Hayworth and a twisted runaround from the couple’s wealthy friend (Alexander Scourby) who appears to be involved in some kind of shady anti-American terrorism. It’s not much more than an attempt to recapture the glory of Gilda with the plots of Notorious and Casablanca thrown in, but Hayworth gives a terrific performance in the lead role, emotionally committed to the character’s many layers of honesty in having to survive so many men who are trying to manipulate her, while also delivering plenty in the glamour department in a series of gorgeous, Oscar-nominated Jean Louis gowns. Ford overdoes the tough guy bit a little too much, but as the plot doesn’t require him to do much more than lust after his co-star and step in when she needs help, he more than adequately fills the position. Valerie Bettis has a terrific few scenes as one of Scourby’s mysterious guests, a rehash of the Claire Trevor role in Key Largo that she shines in, while Juanita Moore does a great deal with the thankless role of Hayworth’s maid. As movies that mainly capitalize on others that came before it go, this one is surprisingly very entertaining and involving.