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.