“Johnnie, I’m just beginning to understand you.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
It’s relatively easy to accept Fontaine’s whirlwind marriage to Johnnie as the consequence of an overly sheltered young woman fearing spinsterhood (certainly plenty of naive, desperate women in real life have married cads or outright psychopaths out of similar motivations) — but once she learns about his lies and financial indiscretions, there’s no excuse for her hesitation in getting out. We’re meant to believe that she simply can’t help herself (she’s too in love with Johnnie), but I don’t buy it. (Interestingly, she’s never given reason to worry about him cheating on her with another woman — which indicates that perhaps women will put up with a lot of nonsense in a marriage as long as they don’t believe their primacy as “woman number one” is being threatened.) Meanwhile, other elements of the screenplay are clumsy as well: how convenient is it, for instance, that Johnnie and Lina happen to be friends with a mystery novelist (Auriol Lee) who’s exploring various methods for untraceable murder? The origins of this friendship are never explained, so it comes across as simply a plot contrivance. With that said, Fontaine’s Oscar-winning performance — in a decidedly imperfectly written role — is fine, and film fanatics will likely be curious to see the movie for this reason alone.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: