2 August 2016 | MartinHafer
Not the sort of film you'd expect from MGM...
David (Zachary Scott) is married to a no-good cheat, Celia. After returning from a business trip, he learns at a dinner party that his wife and 'friend' are having an affair. Later, as the two are arguing over this, Celia knocks out David. In the meantime, Celia's sister, Dell (Ann Sothern) arrives and confronts Celia for stealing her fiancé. Soon Dell kills Celia...and with David unconscious, he's assumed to have done the killing...and David isn't sure he didn't. David's been sent to death row and the only glitch in Dell's plan is that David's young daughter (Gigi Perreau) might have witnessed the killing and Dell needs to be certain she won't talk. While the young girl is too traumatized to fully recall the events, she could remember through the course of therapy...and it could be Dell on death row instead! So Dell can either wait and hope the child cannot remember or kill her to make certain!
This is an unusual film due to the casting. This is NOT a complaint, but seeing Ann Sothern playing a killer is interesting, as she usually played nice, sweet folks like her Maisie character from the 1940s. At first, you can understand her motivation in killing her sister...but to see her attempting to murder an innocent child...that is a dark and twisted character! Additionally, this is one of the few films I've seen where Nancy David (Reagan) is given a chance to really act and she was quite nice as the child psychiatrist, Caroline. In other films, such as "Hellcats of the Navy" and "The Next Voice You Hear", Davis never really had a chance to shine as an actress.
As for the film itself, it is very good and worth seeing. It's also very unusual for MGM...a studio that wasn't known for such dark films back in 1950. In general, film noir pictures were done by other studios and MGM preferred making 'nice' movies...but here they've created a rather hard-hearted film! This is NOT a complaint...I liked the film and can easily recommend it to anyone.
By the way, one odd thing you see in the film is 'hydrotherapy'. Back in the bad old days of psychiatric treatment, hospitals often used baths to somehow try to cure or alleviate suffering in mental patients. In the really bad old days, it was ice water! Here, in the more enlightened 20th century, the baths were less traumatic and more soothing--with warm water. Of dubious value...but at least not harmful in the latter.