Sunday, August 9, 2009
Ok, it's been a while since I've actually given a write-up to a Bette Davis movie, and since yesterday was Bette Davis say on TCM's "Summer Under the Stars" I figured I would write about one of her lesser-known movies.
Bette Davis is Christine, a pianist who believed for many years that her long-lost lover cellist Karel Novak (Paul Henreid) was killed in the war. That is, until she encounters him during a concert and the two resume their romance. However, during Karel's absence, she had taken a new lover, the famed composer Alexander Hollenius (Claude Rains), a fact that she hopes to keep from the incredibly jealous Karel, even if she has to resort to desperate means to do it.
Karel is a jealous type, all right, which is actually the movie's downfall. Bette Davis and Claude Rains are on a high level here, especially Rains who revels in the part of the brilliant composer toying with Christine and Karel's romance. But the main problem is that Karel is such a jealous douche that it's hard to find yourself becoming tense or worried when Christine's affair comes close to being revealed. I mean, when he sees her beautifully furnished apartment when they first reunite, he tries to STRANGLE her, believing her to have taken up with another man, and later he slaps a glass out of her hand. I mean, I dunno what your views on monogamy are, but I would think that if you were thought to be dead for years, it would be ok for your significant other to find someone else, especially when they immediately come back to you. So it's hard to actually care for the character that would supposedly be destroyed by the revelation that the film hinges upon.
Luckily, Bette Davis makes us care for her character, so there is some investment in whether or not her relationship is revealed, but it's purely for her sake, not Karel's. But if there's any reason to see the movie, it's Claude Raines, who plays such an interesting character. He loves Christine, yet he's jealous enough to where he sets out to destroy her and her new husband and he does it all with a smile on his face and cheeky remark on his lips.
The film itself isn't horrible, it's just hard to invest yourself in the main romance, but aside from that, it's not a bad movie. But if you happen to like the cast from the film, check out Now, Voyager which features the same actors and is MUCH more enjoyable.