“I love you so, I can’t bear to share you with anybody.”
Shortly after the death of her beloved father, a socialite (Gene Tierney) breaks off her engagement with an aspiring politician (Vincent Price) and seduces a writer (Cornel Wilde) into marriage. When it becomes clear how deeply Ellen (Tierney) resents the presence of both Wilde’s disabled brother (Darryl Hickman) and her beautiful cousin (Jeanne Crain), Wilde begins to wonder — will Ellen (Tierney) stop at nothing to maintain complete control over him, even beyond death?
After co-starring in Laura (1944), Gene Tierney and Vincent Price were reunited as ill-fated fiances in this Technicolor adaptation of Ben Ames Williams’ bestselling novel about a murderously possessive, psychopathic femme fatale. As noted in Bosley Crowther’s original review for the New York Times, the film is hampered by its “strictly one-dimensional” storyline, which serves simply to present the characters within lush settings as Tierney carries out her lethal agenda. Then again, this film really is all about Ellen — in fact, that film could easily have been named after her, as it’s her show all the way, with all other characters (Wilde’s dense novelist, Crain’s sweet romantic rival, Harland’s “golly gee!” disabled brother) simply serving as foils. Tierney’s Oscar-nominated performance is quite chilling, and her actions are treacherous enough to remain shocking even today — hence, the film’s reputation as a formative noir (though not one I’m a personal fan of, other than surface admiration).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Gene Tierney as Ellen
- Oscar-winning Technicolor cinematography by Leon Shamroy
No, though it’s certainly worth a one-time viewing.