15 December 2011 | dougdoepke
Novel Little Gem
Romantic complications arise when a married woman and a doctor get involved despite the jealousy of their partners.
That opening montage is a grabber. Right away we know Machaty is a director with imagination and style. His European sensibilities provide a feel for the dark side; at the same time, the movie's an offbeat blend of sunny street scenes and noirish interiors, a conflicted world both connected with and apart from our own. Similarly, Aster's tortured European writer remains an exotic character, even for noir. Put him together with three other romantically entangled characters, and you may need a scorecard.
Also adding to the stylish effect, are Karen Morley's unusual looks and subtle abilities. The wild-haired Aster too, really registers in his unconventional part. In fact, note that all four main characters appear intellectually inclined, unusual for Hollywood that never trusted that sort of audience appeal. The screenplay also embeds a neat little whodunit inside the main plot.
The results here remind me of one of Edgar Ulmer's bottom-of-the-barrel gems, such as Detour (1945), or Strange Illusion (1945). The sensibilities seem very similar. Note too the many offbeat but well-calculated camera angles in this film. Also, catch that final sequence that leaves off with an empty room. To me, the sequence complies with Code requirements (wrong-doers being brought to justice), but in a slyly subversive way (we're left with an empty room and not the conventional happy embrace).
I suspect Machaty's Hollywood career was shortened because of the notoriety surrounding Hedy LaMarr and his German film Ecstasy (1933). Too bad, because this little novelty is not just another programmer from Hollywood's poverty row.