EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|WOMAN ON THE BEACH, THE (director/writer: Jean Renoir; screenwriters: Frank Davis/J.R. Michael Hogan/from the novel None So Blind by Mitchell Wilson; cinematographers: Leo Tover/Harry J. Wild; editors: Lyle Boyer/Roland Gross; music: Hanns Eisler; cast: Joan Bennett (Peggy Butler), Robert Ryan (Lieutenant Scott Burnett), Charles Bickford (Tod Butler), Nan Leslie (Eve Geddes), Walter Sande (CPO Otto Wernecke), Irene Ryan (Mrs. Mary Wernecke); Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jack J. Gross/Will Price; RKO; 1947)|
|"One can only imagine how
the pic would have looked without RKO interference."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Unsettling moody psychological melodrama based on the novel None So Blind
by Mitchell Wilson. Director Jean Renoir
("The River"/"The Grand Illusion"/"The Rules of the
Game") is co-writer with Frank Davis and J.R.
Michael Hogan in this flawed production, whereby RKO
was not satisfied with Renoir's storytelling ability
and forced him to change a third of the film. The
editing resulted in gaps in the story and some vacuous
dialogue, but it still had Renoir's edgy touches to
keep me tuned into its intense emotional developments
and I was also much impressed with the force of the
pic and the great acting by the talented cast. One can
only imagine how the pic would have looked without RKO
interference, as the studio was miffed Renoir didn't
follow the usual mystery story outcomes. It resulted
in the studio terminating the acclaimed French
filmmaker's contract and his return to France after
his wartime exile in Hollywood, to never make another
American film. I guess RKO showed him who was boss!
Coast Guard Lieutenant Scott Burnett (Robert Ryan), a ruggedly
handsome mounted patrolman, is disturbed over a
recurring nightmare of drowning and walks around the Coast Guard outpost as if shell-shocked. Scott
confides to his friend
and colleague, the family man CPO Otto
Wernecke (Walter Sande), that his naval war
experience of being
a survivor in a torpedoed ship
has left him with some lingering mental problems
despite being treated for that problem by the
One day Scott meets the attractive Peggy Butler (Joan Bennett) on the beach collecting
firewood from a ship wreck and becomes so attracted to
the sexy married woman, that he changes his mind about
marrying his sweet local fiancee Eve Geddes (Nan Leslie). Peggy's husband is the
famous painter Tod Butler (Charles Bickford), who in a recent accident
has become blind and retired as a painter. Soon a love
triangle develops. Scott is obsessed with winning over
Peggy. Tod is obsessed with holding onto his valuable
paintings and his trophy wife, whom he treats
brutally. While Peggy is the hot-blooded femme fatale,
who plays the men against each other to satisfy her
whims. The men fight to possess the femme fatale, as
all three are tormented by their passions and
loneliness and by the isolated grey beach
surroundings. Though Peggy no longer loves hubby, she
is guilt-ridden that she accidentally caused his
blindness and therefore can't leave him without him
giving her permission.
In the end, Tod cleanses his tormented soul by freeing himself from his past by burning his paintings (thereby leaving him penniless and with no possessions) and giving his long-suffering wife the option to be with her lover Scott, if she so chooses. The overwrought melodramatics probably doesn't make too much sense, but it has an absorbing way of drawing one into the dark sides of love.
REVIEWED ON 2/10/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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