“You must realize by now that Letty has absolutely no intention of giving you up — not until she’s dead!”
When small-town, middle-aged bachelor Harry Quincey (George Sanders) falls in love with a beautiful young woman from New York (Ella Raines), his plans to marry are foiled by his possessive sister Letty (Geraldine Fitzgerald), and Harry plots his revenge.
Response to Peary’s Review:
This “unusual little sleeper” (directed by Robert Siodmak) daringly posits an incestuous menage a trois between a beautiful woman, her lover, and her lover’s possessive sister — the “perfect wife” who will do nearly anything to stop her brother from leaving the nest. Despite its fine acting and atmospheric set design, however, the film is unfortunately dragged down by the improbable logic of its characters — we never learn why it’s so hard for Harry to stand up to his manipulative sister, and their quibbles over who will remain living in the family home once Harry is married are inane. Plus, since we never really get to know what makes the weak-willed Harry tick, his drastic turn to murder makes little sense — especially given that his chance for happiness with Raines has already disappeared.
Uncle Harry also suffers greatly from its wildly incongruous ending, demanded by censors who, as Peary points out, most likely “had to be appeased for allowing [an] incest theme.” Ironically, the last few moments of the film actually do nothing to mitigate the raciness that has come before, and have little effect other than ruining the credibility of the story.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Ella Raines as Harry’s fiance — her dynamic presence serves as a potent contrast to the staid lives of Harry and his sisters
- Fine acting by Sanders, MacGill (Angela Lansbury’s mother), and Fitzgerald
- Several surprising plot twists (but not the final one!)
No, but fans of director Robert Siodmak’s work will undoubtedly want to check it out.