“These are letters which your daughter wrote to the late Ted Darby.”
When a mother (Joan Bennett) mistakenly believes that her teenage daughter (Geraldine Brooks) has killed her lover (Shepperd Strudwick), she hides the body in a “reckless moment” of panic. Soon, however, Bennett is approached by a blackmailer (James Mason) who demands $5,000 in exchange for letters connecting her daughter to the dead man .
The Reckless Moment was Max Ophuls’ fourth and final American film, and shows clear evidence of his distinctive style (note the classic Ophuls “sweeping shot” as Bennett ascends the staircase in her home). It’s a gritty, fast-moving thriller with effectively stark noir cinematography and good use of outdoor locales. Bennett (who, with her sunglasses on, looks for all the world like Myrna Loy) makes a strong lead, and it’s refreshing to see her playing a self-sufficient mother. The film’s primary problem lies in its script, which neglects to adequately explain the motivations behind Mason’s immediate infatuation with Bennett — he’s an intriguing character, and we want to know more about him.
P.S. The Reckless Moment gained renewed attention in 2001 when it was updated with Tilda Swinton in Bennett’s role, and renamed The Deep End.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Joan Bennett as the determined mother
- Effective noir cinematography
- Good use of outdoor locales
No, but it’s recommended.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)