Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Two Mrs Carrolls


I rather enjoyed The Two Mrs Carrolls, a movie that is often described as a film noir (though I think you need to define film noir quite loosely to accommodate it.) Really, it is as much a classic woman in jeopardy story as the very different Back to the Coast which I discussed the other day.

Unexpectedly, the woman in jeopardy is Barbara Stanwyck, often a femme fatale, but here a rather syrupy character who makes the mistake of falling for psychopathic artist Humphrey Bogart. Bogart too is cast against type – he’s not really ideal for the role of angst-ridden creative genius, and the headaches which represent his troubled mental state are portrayed (to be blunt) in an overplayed manner of which any ham actor would be proud. Yet somehow, despite the flaws of the film – it’s based on a stage play, and the theatrical origins of the story become increasingly apparent as the story progresses – it is still pretty entertaining to watch.

Bogart falls for Stanwyck while still married to the first Mrs Carroll. He paints his wife as the Angel of Death, and then, as his creative juices begin to dry up, decides to murder her. For a time, he is happy with Stanwyck, but then the problem returns and he allows himself to be seduced by Alexis Smith (rather less attractive than Stanywyck, but there’s no accounting for tastes.) He embarks on another murder plot, but his schemes are complicated by a blackmailing chemist and his own precocious daughter. Very watchable.

7 comments:

Philip said...

Lucky for you my brother doesn't read crime fiction blogs, Martin. He's had the hots for Alexis Smith for about the past half-century.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Did Stanwyck ever make a bad movie?

David Cranmer said...

I've never seen The Two Mrs Carrolls but with those two leads how can you go wrong?

Martin Edwards said...

Philip, I'd never heard of her before, but your comment prompted me to check her out. I see from her bio that she was a very successful and exceptionally prolific actress. Still can't see that she's quite in Stanwyck's league, though!

seanag said...

I don't know the movie, but it sounds very entertaining--either in a good way or a campy way. I'll add it to my Netflix list.

seanag said...

Just checked it out, and oddly enough, Netflix doesn't seem to know of this movie. Too bad for me.

Martin Edwards said...

It features in a lot of the reference books and it's cropped up on UK TV a number of times over the years, though I'd never watched it before. I think you'll find that, although it's no masterpiece, it's quite entertaining.