[Note: The following review is of a non-Guide for the Film Fanatic title; click here to read more.]
“Sooner or later you’ll come back to your old teacher. You’ll realize that nothing matters except music; everything passes, except music — and me.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Bette Davis Films
- Claude Rains Films
- Irving Rapper Films
- Love Triangle
- Play Adaptation
Based on Louis Verneuil’s 1928 play Jealousy, this atmospheric melodrama (directed by Irving Rapper) received negative reviews upon its release, and is generally considered to be merely an “operatic rehash” of its source material — an assessment which doesn’t do this enjoyable film justice. The three leads (who starred together in Rapper’s earlier Now, Voyager) are all wonderful, with Bette Davis perfectly cast as the duplicitous yet well-meaning Christine, and Paul Heinreid appropriately handsome and moody as Karel. Yet it’s third-billed Claude Rains who most impresses: his portrayal of the egomaniacal Hollenius contains intriguing hints of closeted homosexuality, making his obsessive “love” for Christine seem more like a desire for control than a manifestation of lust or romance. Indeed, music itself is the true love interest in this sticky triangle, with murder eventually committed in its name; and while the film’s violent denouement seems to come out of nowhere, it’s fairly easy to forgive this melodramatic plot device considering the clever script that’s come before.
P.S. Interestingly (but perhaps not surprisingly), Christine’s own musical ambitions are dropped as soon as Heinreid appears on the scene; she’s relegated to performing for guests at her own wedding celebration.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Claude Rains as Hollenius
- Bette Davis as Christine
- Paul Henreid as Karel
- John Abbott in a bit role as a cellist
- Atmospheric settings and backdrops
- Hollenius taking his sweet time ordering a fancy dinner at a restaurant
- Clever dialogue: “Extraordinary, isn’t it, that music can exist in the same world as the basest treachery and ingratitude?”
- Erich Korngold’s score
Yes, simply for Rains’s performance.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)