7 March 2011 | dougdoepke
A Loretta Showcase
A college professor (Young) commits murder while defending against an over-amorous student.
That noirish opening scene of a dark figure struggling along a deserted nighttime highway is iconic, especially when followed in flashback by deserted city streets and a lonely all-night bus. But once the flashbacks end, the movie settles into a fairly routine game of cat- and-mouse with strong psychological overtones. I'm also tempted to say the movie becomes a vehicle for Young, who gets to transform from dowdy career woman to fashionable beauty. However, the male roles (Cummings & Corey) are too large and well acted to allow that. Nonetheless, the film remains a Young showcase where the diva even gets to do the little fashion pirouette that distinguished her TV series.
Note a convention of the time: namely, that a woman can't have a career and be beautiful at the same time. Thus, Wilma (catch the plain-Jane name) as a professor is both grim and repressed. It's only after she essentially drops the career role that her appearance flowers. Young handles the demanding transition pretty well, without going over the top. Nonetheless, the number of close-ups leaves no doubt who the star is. My money, however, is on the rather exotic Wendell Corey (Det. Grogan). He's such an icy presence, it's hard to keep your eyes off him. Too bad that alcohol got the best of this unusual actor.
All in all, the pace may drag at times, but the movie still features enough points of interest to keep the momentum going.