26 October 2014 | lonboris
An Ulmer Film Well Worth a Look
In his TCM intro, Robert Osborne correctly draws attention to this film's focus on a child born out of wedlock as its subject area. One wonders to what extent Ulmer, already comfortable at and most likely the "ace" at PRC, was intrigued by the challenge of flying under the radar of the still-in-force Code. The opening section is purposefully, almost archly, romantic; one has no idea of the situation to come, and it is only alluded to throughout the first half of the film. The title itself veils the true emotional core, the unwed mother's conflict, which reveals itself gradually as the film unfolds. It's well into its second half before her emotional plight becomes fully apparent. Guided by Ulmer, the film veers from high romance to the borders of Ed Wood Land – not quite as far afield as Glen or Glenda, but it does have something of the flavor of the "public education" films that were four-walled from the 30's onwards.
This may not be Ulmer's best film – I would place The Black Cat, Detour, Ruthless, and to a lesser extent Carnegie Hall in that category. But his skill and talent as a director are evident throughout. The film is fluid with camera moves, never extraneous to its content. Especially in the second half, certain lighting-dictated moods are often quite striking, and the physical motions of the performers occasionally demonstrate the rhythmic pacing that Ulmer's late wife Shirley and daughter Ariane have cited as one of the hallmarks of his direction. As in Ruthless, it is classical style applied to dark content. The result is a tone as fevered as any to be found in Ulmer's work.
The child actor does fine. His actions and reactions work to support the purpose of, and at times enhance, every scene. To criticize the performance of a child so young (three years old), as is done by another reviewer, is ludicrous.