7 June 2015 | AlsExGal
Stanwyck is great as always, and there really is more to the plot than meets the eye...
... and by that I mean this film is portraying PTSD 56 years before that is even a recognized phenomenon. In the case of veterans they would call it "shell shock", in the case of crime victims or witnesses to some other horrible incident they would just call it shock, and it really is realistically portrayed by Stanwyck, even though she doesn't really know that is what she is portraying.
Two days before her marriage, wealthy Marian (Barbara Stanwyck) is talking wedding talk to her fiancé, John Ormsby (Henry Kolker), and you can tell she is very much in love with the guy. They descend a staircase at a party and are met by a man. The man claims that Ormsby has been having an affair with his wife and produces the cigarette case Ormsby gave his wife as proof. It has his name on it and to add insult to injury it was a gift from Marian to Ormsby. The jealous husband shoots Ormsby dead right there on the staircase in front of Marian. Marian is in no danger because escape is not on the husband's mind, only murdering his wife's lover, and he has accomplished that.
The papers are full of the scandal, reporters hound Marian's front door, and fortunately she has a house of loyal servants to keep the interlopers out. The worst thing is Marian can't feel anything - she doesn't feel love, hate, hope, just a kind of nothingness. It is suggested that she spend some time in the Canadian Rockies. It is summer and she has always loved the place, however her mood does not improve. She still feels nothing.
On a long walk she falls down a hill and injures herself. She is found by Forrester (Frank Morgan), who is also on a walk. He carries her back to her house, comes to visit her, and at first when she realizes he feels a romantic attraction she gives him the brush off. But he is persistent and soon they are fast friends. He wants to marry her and she confesses she feels no love for him, but also tells him that she feels nothing for anybody. It comes time for Forrester to return to civilization and she realizes she does not want to lose him. He agrees to the marriage and says for love they will substitute honesty, and that will be enough for him.
They return to Chicago, and at first her PTSD keeps her from wanting to be around large numbers of people, but Forrester is gentle with her and soon she is able to take on the task of being hostess in their home. He builds a house for her in the country, and she is content, but still not in love. She busies herself with gardening in her new home, but with a beautiful young wife who is not in love, and a husband who is older and has to be away for weeks at a time sometimes, you know something bad is just going to drop from the sky in all of this. And it literally does just that - Ricardo Cortez, portraying the president of an aerospace corporation, crash lands during a test drive of one of his new designs on her garden and introduces himself by kissing her passionately. Cortez' character KNOWS she is married, is a guest at a party thrown by her husband, and yet the villain still pursues her. How will all of this work out? Watch and find out.
Everybody plays their part marvelously here. I haven't mentioned Frank Morgan, but he really was just more than the bumbling often ne'er do well that he often played over at MGM and this Warner's B film really does show off his talents. Seeing Rafaela Ottiano play Marian's caring servant seemed rather weird when I mainly remember her from The Devil Doll as the mad scientist, missing one leg and one arm and consumed with shrinking people...but I digress.
What is especially weird is that Marian has one servant that looks the part - somewhat stuffy - but whenever he opens his mouth he sounds like he should be in a gangster film. I'm not sure where that was coming from.
At any rate, I consider this one much better than its reputation, even if it was one of Warner's B efforts. Recommended.