14 July 2005 | jotix100
Bette plays Beethoven's Apassionata sonata!
Irving Rapper's "Deception" reunited the three stars of a much better Bette Davis' vehicle: "Now Voyager". This is a film where all three stars shine equally. "Deception" was based on a play and the adaptation has opened it in unexpected ways. This satisfying melodrama has one thing going for it: the great music one hears throughout the movie, it's highlight being the Korngold Cello concerto, a rarity seldom heard, let alone in films. We are also treated to the beginning of Beethoven's Apassionata sonata as well.
Christine Radcliffe is a musician who gets separated from the love of her life, Karel Novak, one of the best cellist of Europe, before the advent of WWII. Christine comes back to New York, where she becomes the lover of a famous composer, Alexander Hollenius. One day, Christine discovers Karel's name playing in a second class venue in Manhattan, where they are reunited.
Christine doesn't have the nerve to tell Karel about what has happened in the intervening years. It's obvious Christine has done well for herself, as Karel discovers Christine lives in a great apartment, he finds closets full of elegant and expensive clothes, furs, jewelry, which doesn't make sense to him. Little does he know everything has come out of the generosity of Alexander Hollenius, a composer that fell in love with Christine and obviously, became her lover. Christine is coy in not revealing the truth, which keeps interfering with her happiness, until it comes to a head as Hollenius threatens Christine to tell it all to Karel after he plays the concert. It's at that point that Christine realizes she is cornered and must face reality and the fact that she will lose the man she really loves.
Bette Davis made a fine Christine, a woman she was born to play. Ms. Davis is amazing in the film, which unfortunately, is forgotten by all her admirers when comparing this role to her other great screen portraits. Claude Rains, who worked so well with Ms. Davis, gives an incredible performance as the egotistical composer who is afraid to lose his own creation. This has to be one of Mr. Rains' best appearances in a film. Paul Henried is perfect as Karel, the European cellist madly in love with Christine, a woman he thought he had lost forever. Mr. Henried is an elegant figure in this film, something that he projected effortlessly.
Ernest Haller's cinematography greatly enhances all we see on the screen. Mr. Haller was one of the best photographers working in that period, as he clearly shows here. George James Hopkins' sets not only are opulent, but he clearly knew how to get the most of his interior designs.
The film is an engrossing tale that will satisfy the fans of this genre.