Considering what was happening on the world stage at the time this movie was made (i.e., The Berlin Airlift), it was becoming unfortunately clear that the Soviet Union was not an ally anymore and RKO probably thought this a timely subject. The cast is first rate and I found the narrative interesting. A couple of corrections from other postings: Lorraine Day was not lent out by MGM. Her contract ended in 1945 and she signed with RKO (on a non-exclusive basis)which was fortunate as it allowed her to illustrate her abilities as an actress in a much wider range of movie: "The Locket," "Tycoon," "My Dear Secretary," and this movie. The second correction is that this was not a "B" movie. It seems that a few reviewers confuse what they consider "B" content with how a movie is advertised/presented in its theater engagements; this was not a second feature. I also believe that RKO was every bit as proficient, stylish and accomplished in the movies they chose to make as was MGM. As for Robert Ryan, what can one say about this great actor that has not been said before.
Maureen O'Hara once told me that no studio photographed her to better advantage than RKO and, after seeing this movie once again, I have to agree. I also found it refreshing to see her play a role different from what was usually expected of her. John Garfield is always wonderful, but for me the most interesting character was that played by the great Walter Slezak. This actor dominates every scene he is in and should be remembered and appreciated as much as other similar greats such as Sydney Greenstreet. As for the story, I think this is an example of style trumping narrative. The RKO style (camera, sets, art direction, etc.)was second to none and for those of us appreciative of such visuals, this movie is a treat.
Contrary to what some previous reviews have stated, Susan Hayward was not first billed; Robert Young was the top billed player. Cast against his usual type of role, Robert Young was perfect in the role. Comparing him to how other actors might have played the role makes no sense to me, except as an exercise in "armchair casting". The standout for me in the actresses was Rita Johnson, who was terrific. A most underrated actress (catch her in "The Big Clock"). Jane Greer was a truly beautiful woman, and it is a shame that she never achieved the heights of stardom that others did. Susan Hayward, on her way up the ladder, was as always a knockout - this is my personal favorite period for her (including "Deadline At Dawn") I thought the picture was almost perfect, full of irony and suspense. As always, the RKO cinematography is second to none. What a look those RKO movies had!
I found this movie entertaining, but I think it is a mistake to compare it to "Calcutta," since they are very different in many ways. The only similarity is that they both take place in the orient. "Calcutta" is essentially-- aside from the adventure trappings -- a "whodunnit" with a surprise twist at the end, similar to both "Dead Reckoning" and "The Maltese Falcon". "Saigon," which I enjoyed for what it is, is a much less involving movie because, for one thing, there is really not that much suspense. However, the Ladd/Lake combo is always interesting to watch and the supporting actors -- in particular, Morris Carnovsky and Luis van Rooten -- I found fascinating. Whereas Paramount gave "Calcutta" a much more expensive mounting (which paid off because it actually took in more at the box office than even "The Blue Dahlia), I felt they really reduced the budget on this movie -- the hotel sets at the end being the only really expensive looking ones. recommended for Ladd/Lake fans.
I have enjoyed reading the various postings about this movie, but found it somewhat depressing to find so many viewers have been obviously conditioned by present day "standards of talent." (and by that I mean there is no one today to fill the shoes of these musical giants). Speaking for myself, this was quite an amazing achievement in the form it was meant to be -- a "Review" -- not a musical with a storyline -- and I think it is only fair to judge it on those terms, rather than what you wished it would be. My opinion: most of the comedy numbers were OK, but one should remember that these numbers were directed at a 1946 audience, who appreciated this kind of gentle humor more than present day viewers. As for the musical numbers -- I don't think MGM ever mounted anything as lavish and, in particular, "This Heart of Mine". One posting said the storyline didn't make any sense (it certainly did to me), and more than one decried the inadequacy of Lucille Bremer as a dancer. Lucille Bremer was not only beautiful, but was an excellent dancer and for me, they were perfect together. "Limehouse Blues" (filmed on the "Dorian Gray" set) is one for the history books. Judy Garland looked beautiful and, in an early example, showed what a terrific range she possessed. The Technicolor was magnificent. By the way, contrary to what was posted, this was one of MGM's highest grosses of he 1940s.
I think most of the critics of this movie miss the point entirely. Many of the 1940s movie stars were "personalities," groomed by their studios not to be great "actors," and subsequently built vehicles around them. Maria Montez had enormous charisma on screen, and although many of the reviews above make fun of her accent (which would not be permitted today), try looking at anyone else when she is on the screen. It's a fun movie -- definitely not for elitist reviewers, whose taste is for serious "acting". The great thing about the Golden Age of Hollywood Movies is the variety of movies, something for everyone. Today, sadly, there is no more Hollywood. Just about every "film" today (with some exceptions obviously) looks like a TV sitcom. It must have been a fun experience to go into a movie theater in the 1940s and see an escaptist movie like "Cobra Woman" instead of today when (and I don't bother anymore) one goes into a theater to see a variety of dreary, "true life" stories, performed by the current crop of supposedly "great actors." It would be interesting to be around in 60 years or so to see if people would remember (or even care about) the movies of today, as opposed to "Cobra Woman," which people seem to enjoy making fun of. I give it a 10 out of 10, solely because it was made to entertain, and for me it did.
I first saw this movie a few years ago, and totally fell under its spell. The cast from the leads Nina Foch, Dame May Witty, George Macready down to such unforgettable character players as Anita Bolster, Queenie Leonard and Doris Lloyd are perfect. I think it is important to see a movie in the context of when it was filmed, rather than from a standpoint of the current day. Regarding the supposed "passivity" of the Foch character, even in today's world of "women's liberation," if one is constantly drugged, it would be difficult for anyone to be other than passive. As to the movie itself, I found it to be a very good "woman in distress" type of thriller and, on its own terms, succeeded immensely. FYI, this movie opened by itself at the Ambassador Theatre in NYC and although not considered a major movie, was on the Top Ten Movies List of 1945.
I just watched this movie again and, despite the many derogatory comments about Lizabeth Scott's acting abilities in the other reviews, I have to say that I found her far more interesting to watch than Lauren Bacall of that same period. She was certainly adequate to the role as written. FYI,she was under contract to Hal Wallis at this time (who released through Paramount)and was a last minute replacement for Rita Hayworth, who withdrew at the last minute because she didn't want to play another bad girl after "Gilda". The look of the movie is great, the supporting cast perfect and Bogart, as always, delivers the goods. I sense from some of the other reviewers that they are looking at this mystery (PLEASE, permanently retire that tiresome term, "Film Noir"!)in contemporary terms, rather than through the eyes of 1947 audiences, who generally went to the movies to be entertained, and not to over-analyze what is essentially a mystery. If one wants to have a good time, which was the idea behind movies of that period, you will be. Certainly far more than most of what is produced today, with forgettable faces, dumbed-down plots and questionable taste. I give this movie an 8.
Contrary to what many of the other reviewers have written, this movie was released as an "A", opening at the Criterion Theatre on Broadway in NYC. My only caveat in my positive opinion of this movie is the character of Catherine who, in the novel was the "Black Angel", destroying the men she comes across in her quest to prove her husband innocent. The writers for the movie made her far too passive, and June Vincent (who I like) was far too sympathetic. Otherwise, this movie is terrific, with a special mention to Paul Ivano for his excellent photography, Frank Skinner for a truly wonderful soundtrack. A special nod should be given to gorgeous Constance Dowling who, in her few brief scenes, truly captured the essence of her character. FYI, before this movie was released, several scenes were cut (one involving Constance Dowling, and one involving Duryea and Vincent, as well as one scene in which June Vincent sings.) I know I am probably in the minority on the following opinion - but I wish someone would retire permanently that elitist description for mysteries: "Film Noir"!
"Calcutta" was one of Alan Ladd's most successful movies of the 1940s (even out-grossing "The Blue Dahlia") and is a fun combination of film noir and adventure. Alan Ladd and Gail Russell made a beautiful couple, and I was sorry that they made only two co-starring vehicles together.
Some critics resented the fact that Gail Russell was the villainness of the story, but I have to disagree. It added irony at the end, and debunked the type-casting limitations so many stars of that period had to suffer through. She was a real beauty! As well, the supporting cast is excellent, in particular Broadway's Edith King. Without a doubt, this is a typical Alan Ladd "star vehicle" of the period -- to be enjoyed for what it is (a fun "Terry and the Pirates" type vehicle), and not to be over-analyzed.