24 December 2009 | AlsExGal
Many call this an unusual Bogart film...
...but it isn't really that unusual if you consider the films Bogart made after "High Sierra" and he began to get meatier film roles instead of the one-note gangster roles Warner Brothers often put him into from 1936 until 1941. Bogart was quite a versatile actor to put it mildly, and this film showcases yet another side of his talents.
Bogart plays Richard Mason, an engineer who is celebrating his fifth wedding anniversary with his wife Kathryn (Rose Hobart). However, Richard and Kathryn have been snapping at each other for the last few weeks. In a bit of a showdown before attending their anniversary party, Richard admits that he is in love with Kathryn's sister Evelyn, and Kathryn admits her short temper has been because she realizes this. Kathryn also states that she would never agree to a divorce. Realize that Evelyn (Alexis Smith) is innocent in all of this as Richard has been worshiping her from afar.
That night, on the way back from their anniversary party, Richard is gazing at Evelyn through the rear view mirror and has an automobile accident as a result of not paying attention to the road. Evelyn and Kathryn are unharmed, but Richard has broken his leg. Richard uses this injury, and the fact that no doctor can be sure at what point he'll regain the use of his leg, to come up with a rather clever scheme for killing his wife. After recovering his mobility, he continues to behave as though incapacitated. With everyone believing him immobilized by his injury, he intercepts his wife's car on a remote mountain road, blocking the road with his own car. He kills his wife and then sends the car off a cliff with Kathryn inside. A large group of logs go off the cliff with the car making a kind of eery formation on top of it and obscuring the wreck. The car does not catch fire.
Now all Richard has to do is go back to town undetected, still playing the cripple, and now playing the worried husband as well when his wife does not reach her destination. With Evelyn at his side to provide moral support, his plan is to wait for the alerted state police to find his wife's car and thus her body. Then he'll be free to court Evelyn. However, there is one snag - the police never find Kathryn's body or her car. On top of that, Kathryn's things that were with her when she died are showing up one by one - in Richard's desk, in his bedroom, in his luggage when he goes on a trip. The scent of Kathryn's perfume fills their room one night. He even sees someone who is dressed just like his wife on the street one day and follows her - she disappears into thin air. Whatever is going on here? Was Kathryn unharmed in this second accident as well? Is she playing with him? Unlike most mysteries, this one is not something that needs to be explained to the audience at the end, although it is. If you watch the film closely enough you'll figure out exactly what happened before it starts happening - but you have to pay attention. Highly recommended.