“If I could prove to you that Tod wasn’t really blind, would you leave him?”
A shell-shocked veteran (Robert Ryan) engaged to a local girl (Nan Leslie) falls for the seductive wife (Joan Bennett) of a recently blinded painter (Charles Bickford). Soon Ryan becomes convinced that Bickford isn’t really blind, and sets out to prove this to Bennett.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Charles Bickford Films
- Femmes Fatales
- Jean Renoir Films
- Joan Bennett Films
- Love Triangle
- Robert Ryan Films
Jean Renoir was forced to drastically edit Woman on the Beach, his final American film; the result is an atmospheric yet narratively flawed noir romance. As many have noted, there’s (sadly) potential here for something much greater, with Bennett and Ryan giving particularly noteworthy performances as the would-be lovers; but the script fails them (and us) by neglecting to elaborate upon either’s motivations. With that said, Renoir’s unique directorial touch remains a pleasure to watch, and there are several powerful moments scattered throughout the film: Ryan leading Bickford along the cliffs in an attempt to prove that he isn’t really blind; Ryan and Bennett viewing Bickford’s approach through the porthole of an abandoned ship; Bickford and Bennett discussing their enduring — if dysfunctional — love for each other. It’s too bad that none of the edited footage from this overly-short 70-minute film remains, because a reconstruction of Renoir’s original vision seems in order.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Joan Bennett as the seductive femme fatale
- Robert Ryan as the smitten veteran
- Creative direction, heightening the love triangle tensions
No, but it’s recommended for noir fans.