This flashback laden melodrama has a fine cast and enough atmospheric noir touches to overcome a few unconvincing actions by the principals involved and keep classic film fans glued to the screen, waiting to see how it all finally plays out. The uneven moments of Sheridan Gibney's screenplay are smoothed over by Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchum and Laraine Day as a girl as messed up as she is pretty. Roy Webb gave another RKO mid-budget effort a solid score that fit every scene while director John Braham makes a film which could have been so hard to follow the audience lost interest into an entertaining entry in the noir cycle.
The film begins as Nancy (Laraine Day) is about to walk down the aisle. But psychiatrist Brian Aherne wants to keep another man from falling for the sweet demeanor of a woman he knows all too well. As he begins telling his tale to the groom, the viewer gets layer after layer of flashbacks, Aherne relating not only how he was in love with her, but how he too did not believe Norman (Robert Mitchum) when the artist came to him in much the same way. It is the flashback of Mitchum's twisted tale of woe within Aherne's that rivets the viewer, making this film seem better than it does on paper.
We see Nancy as charming, manipulative and, ultimately, so traumatized by an unfair accusation regarding a locket as a child that her entire life was changed in that moment. Yet the man who loves her can no more reconcile the sweet girl walking down the aisle with the mentally twisted picture of Nancy painted so vividly by Aherne than Aherne could the even darker depiction Mitchum's Norman gave him so long ago, before it was too late. Theft, murder and manipulation all play a part in this story within a story within a story.
While it doesn't have enough bite to leave marks like many of the great noirs, it has some atmospheric scenes and nice performances from Day, Mitchum and Aherne. It is a film entertaining enough to warrant it being a must see film for fans of classic films, this particular genre, or any of the stars. Not one of the great noirs, but tremendously entertaining on another level, and impossible to go wrong with this cast.