30 January 2011 | bkoganbing
Film Turns On Stephen Boyd
Woman Obsessed teams Susan Hayward and Stephen Boyd in a rugged northwestern about a widow and the farmhand she hires. Though set in Canada according to the Citadel Film Series book, The Films Of Susan Hayward the outdoor scenes were shot in Lone Pine, a location that director Henry Hathaway favored. He had shot The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine in that area over 20 years earlier.
When we first meet Hayward, she's a happy rural woman with husband Arthur Franz and son Dennis Holmes. But then Franz is killed and Susan's really up against it raising a child and trying to work a small farm. She hires a brooding Stephen Boyd as a hand.
Although not mentioned as per The Code, Hayward's got other needs that are subtly suggested and Boyd does have a superficial resemblance to Franz. But it's superficial only. Boyd is inarticulate and almost surly at times, especially around young Dennis Holmes.
This was the strength of Woman Obsessed. The plot could have gone in several directions, Boyd's very inarticulateness could have hidden great sadness, great humanity, or an incredible villainy. You really don't know until the end how it will turn out. Though Hayward is top billed, the film really does turn on Boyd's performance.
Also in the film is Theodore Bikel as the area's doctor, a very compassionate and humanitarian man and Barbara Nichols who just comes across too much as a wisecracking city dame. You don't find people like her in the rugged Northwest.
Woman Obsessed holds up well today. Canada still has rugged frontier area and people probably do still live the way Hayward and Boyd do.