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One of the first things that struck me about Whirlpool is how good an actress Gene Tierney actually was. She does such a terrific job of portraying both the vulnerability and desperation of her character. Set in Los Angeles, Whirlpool is an unassuming and unpretentious thriller that sort of fits the mold of noir. The movie certainly isn't the best example of the genre, but it does have many fine elements that, combined with Ms. Tierney's performance, make it eminently watchable. Gene Tierney stars as Ann Sutton. Ann is the wealthy and respectable wife of successful psychiatrist Dr. William Sutton (a marvelous Richard Conte). The film opens as Ann is caught shoplifting a jeweled broach from a ritzy department store. The police and the store manager are determined to prosecute, but she gets off the hook thanks to David Korvo (Jose Ferrer), a mysterious hypnotist whom Ann employs to help her sleep. Ann initially thinks that Korvo is out to blackmail her, and she offers him a large some of money to keep him quiet. Korvo, however, has another, far more furtive agenda. As he gradually builds Ann's trust, it soon is revealed that he has been having an affair with Sutton's former patient Theresa Randolph (Barbara O'Neil). Shortly thereafter, Theresa turns up dead, and Ann is implicated as the murderer since she was found at the scene of the crime. Ann is arrested and charged with murder, but bitterly denies involvement telling her kindly husband that she just can't remember anything. So, who is the murderer? Surely it can't have been Korvo, as he was in the hospital during the time of Theresa's death. It is left up to Lt. Colton (Charles Bickford) to use his detective skills and Dr. Sutton as the committed psychiatrist to break the hold that Korvo has on Ann and finally learn the truth behind the Theresa's murder. Ferrer is terrific as the enigmatic Korvo. From the beginning it's plainly obvious that he's a sleazy, amoral confidence trickster, who is probably out to milk the Ann of her money and nothing happens to compromise his position. Richard Conte is also very good as Ann's concerned husband; he knows that his wife is not guilty but he's frustrated at the lack of inaction on behalf the local police to prove her innocence. The issues of hypnotherapy, especially with the idea that hypnosis can make people do stuff they don't want to, is also interesting. Although, by today's standards it perhaps doesn't carry the kind of psychological weight and dramatic punch that it did back when the film was made. Perhaps influenced by the wave of films during the period that utilized the growing field of hypnotherapy the picture might have seemed a bit fresher when it was first released. However, the Whirlpool is still fun to watch, especially for the lovely Gene Tierney who apparently used Whirlpool as a comeback after a two-year absence. Mike Leonard September 05.Read more ›
An interesting and divisive film noir thriller directed by Otto Preminger and written by Ben Hecht (under the blacklist pseudonym Lester Barstow) and Andrew Solt. Adapted from the novel "Methinks the Lady" written by Guy Endore, the film Stars Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, José Ferrer, and Charles Bickford. Arthur C. Miller is the cinematographer and David Raksin, under the watchful eye of Alfred Newman, provides the music.
The plot sees Ann Sutton (Tierney), the wife of a successful psychoanalyst (Conte), arrested for shoplifting since she has some kleptomania issues. Just when it seems Ann is about to be thrust into a world of scandal, she is saved by smooth-talking hypnotist called David Korvo (Ferrer). Korvo, however, is not what he seems to be, and Ann soon finds herself involved in blackmail and murder and her marriage on the brink of collapse. Confused and emotionally torn, Ann is unsure whether or not she has committed a crime. It looks bleak unless her husband or the police can get to the bottom of the murky mystery.
Combining a psychological thriller core with overt melodramatics, Whirlpool has still to convince many of the film noir hoards as to its worth. Some critics find the concept of the story silly and hard to take, whilst others have gone a step further to suggest that Preminger and Hecht have merely remade Hitchcock's Gregory Peck starrer Spellbound (Hecht on screenplay duties there too) from four years earlier. Either way, and putting a noirish sheen on a Hitchcock movie is no bad thing by the way, Preminger's movie is a compelling little piece of cinema. The central theme of hypnosis as a weapon gives the film a dark edge and Preminger nicely portrays a world containing sympathetically flawed characters. While in the form of Ferrer's oily slick Korvo, film noir gets a most intriguing Mabuse/Freudian like villain of high entertainment value.
Tierney doesn't have to do much here, asked to portray confusion and an almost constant state of hypnotism, she delivers well enough whilst always remaining innocently sexy, and Conte's woodenness as the husband oddly benefits the story. Also worthy of a mention is the ever watchable Charles Bickford as Lt. Colton, a thinking mans copper, Bickford keeps it serious as the daftness of the plot threatens to submerge and unhinge the drama. Frowned upon by big hitting American critics, the film found support from notable Frenchies Rivette and Godard. It seems that like myself, they too liked the quirky and creepy nature of the beast. 7/10Read more ›
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation presents "WHIRLPOOL" (1949) (98 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Whirlpool is a sleek thriller about the well-to-do. Ann Sutton (Gene Tierney), the fashionable, neurotic wife of a prominent psychoanalyst, is kleptomaniac --- When she is arrested at an upscale department store for stealing a broach, she is save by Korvo (José Ferrer), an astrologer and hypnotist who specializes in separating gullible rich women from their money.
An interesting film that is well worth watching --- Jose Ferrer as Korvo is a standout but Gene Tierney seems to have lost her fire and ends up sleepwalking through the film, even when she is not hypnotized.
The shot in which Gene Tierney stands before the portrait is an obvious homage to Laura and a rare moment of self-quotation in Preminger's oeuvre. David Raksin's theme song, good but not great evokes the heroine's descent into a vortex.
Under the production staff of: Otto Preminger [Director/Producer] Ben Hecht [Screenplay] Andrew Solt [Screenplay] Guy Endore [Novel] David Raksin [Original Music] Arthur C. Miller [Cinematographer] Louis R. Loeffler [Film Editor]
BIOS: 1. Otto Ludwig Preminger [Director] Date of Birth: 5 December 1905 - Wiznitz, Bukovina, Austria-Hungary (now Wyschnyzja, Ukraine)) Date of Death: 23 April 1986 - New York City, New York
2. Gene Tierney Date of Birth: 19 November 1920 - Brooklyn, New York Date of Death: 6 November 1991 - Houston, Texas
3. Richard Conte Date of Birth: 24 March 1910 - Jersey City, New Jersey Date of Death: 15 April 1975 - Los Angeles, California
4. José Ferrer [aka: José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón] Date of Birth: 8 January 1912- Santurce, Puerto Rico Date of Death: 26 January 1992 - Coral Gables, Florida
the cast includes: Gene Tierney - Ann Sutton Richard Conte - Dr. William 'Bill' Sutton José Ferrer - David Korvo (as Jose Ferrer) Charles Bickford - Lt. James Colton Barbara O'Neil - Theresa Randolph Eduard Franz - Martin Avery Constance Collier - Tina Cosgrove Fortunio Bonanova - Feruccio di Ravallo
Mr. Jim's Ratings: Quality of Picture & Sound: 4 Stars Performance: 4 Stars Story & Screenplay: 4 Stars Overall: 4 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 98 min on DVD ~ 20th Century Fox ~ (09/06/2005)Read more ›