22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2009
No pun intended, quite the reverse. Ophuls was one of the best, and he stamped quality on most everything he did in cinema. This film tells the not-unusual story of a young woman caught in a disastrous marriage. Forget everything you have seen in many other cinematic passes at the subject-matter, and come to this drama ready to be intrigued and entertained. You won't be disappointed. Robert Ryan is powerful and menacing in the interesting psychological (much in the fashion of contemporary and later Hitchcock films) portrait of a man who must be obeyed. Barbara Bel Geddes is also excellent - another of Ophuls' self-absorbed victim-heroines. And James Mason provides the perfect foil for them both in a convincing character study of a doctor with a social conscience but no sociability. The transfer to DVD is excellent, and it comes with useful extra material (an intelligent discussion of the film, providing insights into Ophuls' methods and relating this production to some of his other work). Well worth having in the home video library.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Caught is directed by Max Ophüls and adapted to screenplay by Arthur Laurents from the novel Wild Calendar written by Libbie Block. It stars Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan, James Mason, Frank Ferguson and Curt Bois. Music is by Frederick Hollander and cinematography by Lee Garmes.
Seeking to make a comfy nest by marrying a rich man, Leonora Eames (Geddes) snags more than she bargained for when Smith Ohlrig (Ryan) becomes the man of her life. And then circumstance brings Doctor Larry Quinada (Mason) in to her life and things will never be the same again...
Psychological swirls ago go in this fine piece of work. Story was changed somewhat by Ophüls after he was brought in as a last directing throw of the dice. Softening the harsh edges of Leonora's original persona on the page, he brings about a sort of piggy in the middle scenario. On one side she has a tyrant control freak of a husband, on the other she has a good honest gentleman doctor keen to impart his love to her life. It sounds an easy choice to make, but circumstance, the vagaries of noirish fate - of life affirming decisions, doesn't make this a straight forward narrative piece.
Smith Ohlrig is based on Howard Hughes, who surprisingly didn't kick up too much of a fuss once the word got out. This is one troubled character, mean and controlling, superbly portrayed by a chilling Robert Ryan, it's just a pity there isn't time in the piece for more of Ryan's forceful nastiness. The best scenes feature Ryan, the shamble of the marriage is adroitly filmed by Ophüls around the gloomy Ohlrig mansion, with reverse shots, perception tinkerings and isolated shadow play emphasising the relationship from hell - the impact of Lee Garmes' (Nightmare Alley) photography and the art direction of Frank Paul Sylos (The Great Flamarion) also not to be under estimated.
Leonora is a well written character, it would have been easy to have her as weak willed and spineless, but there's a strong feminist bent afforded her by the makers, giving her some guts and intelligence to off set the desperate situation she will find herself in later in the play. Geddes ticks all the right boxes for the emotional requirements of the role, never over doing the histrionics. Mason saunters into the pic with a grace and elegance that made the American market sit up and take notice, a class act and he fits the role perfectly. Ophüls steers this one admirably throughout, arriving at a culminating finale that's guaranteed to make you have conflicting feelings. 8/10
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2000
This movie stars the great James Mason, Robert Ryan and Barbara Bel Geddes. Barbara plays the new wife of a millionaire played by Robert Ryan who treats her very badly, so to get away from him she leaves her luxury surroundings to move to another low class town, she gets a job of a Doctors receptionist to Dr.Quinada played by James Mason,the obvious happens(they fall in love),only she can't stay with him as something happens that makes it out of the question! The whole cast is good especially James Mason,but I feel he should have played Robert Ryan's role of the evil millionaire rather than that of the wimpy angelic Doctor.The movie could have been a little better but is very entertaining and has it's moments!
on 27 January 2013
This is the story of a young girl who is trying to better herself but her real ambition is to marry a rich man and live happily ever after. The former happens, the latter does not.
She finally leaves him and gets a job at which she is noit very good. However, she gets another chance and does better. The horrible husband decides he wants her back, so back she goes. More disasters follow. More drama ensues. I don`t think she is the brightest spark in the story.
James Mason is the doctor who gives her a job, Robert Ryan the husband, Barbara Bel Geddes the girl. Max Ophuls photgraphs Robert Ryan, making him look very large, and overpowering. He was always a good baddie and is here.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2011
Caught (Ophuls 1949)
There are obvious similarities shared between this Ophuls' sophomore American work and his first stab at classicism, `Letter From An Unknown Woman' completed one year earlier. Like the earlier film `Caught' deals with female desire, that is to say that what drives the narrative is not so much the answer but Freud's exasperated question, "What does a woman want?" While the answer may initially be banal, `The love of a man', what Ophuls offers us is the more complex response, ...well if so, then what is that love, and more importantly who controls the machinations of its drama? To say that in both these films the woman, at least to begin with wishes to occupy that place par excellence that Mulvey so awkwardly describes as "to be looked-at-ness", what these women soon realise is the perverse masochism that will eventually lead to a tragic (certainly in the first film) outcomes. To enter into this labyrinth will be to recognise that it must be an Ariadne who can lead us out. In this respect the object cause of desire becomes the subject of desire in both of these films. What is revealed is not so much the end but rather the beginning, the beginning of a narrative that we might call a `woman's tale'.
While `Letter' from the beginning seduces us, through the ever moving lyrical acrobatics of Ophuls' crane shots, the second outing is marked by a more `classical' approach. While `Letter from an Unknown Woman' offers us a kind of delirium of desire, a mise-en-scène structured by the roving looks of subject and object of sexual longing, `Caught', despite its title, remains to a degree aloof from its diegetic world. Like Hawks, or Wellman, almost every sequence begins with the master shot but then unlike these two master Ophuls breaks from that style by a kind of penetrating dolly movement that becomes the architectural gesture of almost every scene. We begin on the outside, the dramatic space given form and then we are slowly involved in the scene. This style, trope (?) rehearses the overall construction of the narrative, from outside towards an inside , an investigative mode that leads us into the puzzle.
From the beginning of `Caught', we see how two young girls, like `Letter's' protagonist, heads full of petite bourgeois aspirations, see themselves as possible objects, they long to be in the vision of men, fetishized like the adverts they are pouring over. Make no mistake, Ophuls intends us to recognise this form of masochism just as he does with the dreamy voice over of the besotted Viennese girl of his previous film. From this opening were we are allowed to see and hear the fantasy of the desire to be looked at, even to be owned (in the euphemism of the day, to be kept) which becomes the overture to this woman's film par excellence. Our protagonist Maude (Leonora) day dreams of a millionaire who will not only desire her but will sweep her off her feet, a foolish Cinderella prepared only for the false hope of Hollywood make-believe. At one point she is asked by her husband what she wants and she replies "to be wanted by you".
That both films position the central characters as models can be no accident for in both cases these young women are literally modelled. Their appearance is utilised for the economics of consumerism, they are , at the very least metonymically, structured as consumer objects, in the case of `Caught' this becomes a leitmotif of the film's narrative rhythm, the mink coat, this item often standing in for both the subject and the object of desire. Pay attention here to the scenes in the department store and the scene just before Leonora goes off to the yacht party. The conversations drip with economic metaphors; "Cheap", "Good investment", the "security of money" etc.
Here we begin to notice the differences in the two films, if the object of desire in the first film is the preening, narcissistic, musician (artist) Stefan, in this film we have the paranoid, egomaniac (capitalist) Smith Ohlrig (Oilrig!!). The first object an effeminate good-looker who could only be desirable to an adolescent girl, in this film we have the over-powering Robert Ryan at his macho best, clearly a "woman's man".
The narrative of `Caught' while lacking the lyrical qualities of `Letter' has a much more complex thread to be followed. While the `third' of `Letter' is a deaf mute who becomes a muted husband in this film we have a Freudian psychoanalyst as the initial third who is the end transformed not into the husband but into the equally, structurally important, possible husband, the only real difference being that the latter is played by James Mason.
What might be most useful to think about in terms of seminar discussion is the way in which to two narratives choose to utilise particular dramatic cadences. In `Letter' The effect of female desire is tracked as a series of positions that lead to a tragic end, in `Caught' we are offered a similar trajectory, the central character's development is determined by the way in which she is positioned in terms of men, and incidentally (or maybe not?) by pregnancy. The desire of woman, for a man, for a child, we might view pessimistically, but both films in the end deliver something that while substantially we might be able to typify as `Ophulsian' (sic), we also might argue are closer on theme than in style. We will see.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2009
Not too much of a story going on here - Barbara Bel Geddes (Leonora) gets married to Robert Ryan (Smith Ohlrig) who doesn't really want to marry her. She feels trapped and decides to break away but Ryan is a rich, manipulative bully who wants his own way.
This film does not belong in the Film Noir category as is constantly being suggested - there are too many elements missing for it to be defined in this genre, most glaringly the lack of a 'femme fatale' and the lack of any murder victim. However, Ophuls does direct in a Noirish manner, for example there is a claustrophobic feel to many scenes. His direction provides a depth to many shots and this cranks the interest of the film up a gear, as ultimately, there is not a lot of plot (another element missing that would normally define a Film Noir). This film is about power in relationships and goes down the obvious preachy road of money alone can't make you happy.
Robert Ryan is the standout in the cast and every line he delivers is top quality. His role is based on Howard Hughes, who allowed the performance to go ahead provided that the film leave out any obvious reference to Hughes's business dealings and to his appearance. Ryan gets the ridiculous name of 'Smith Ohlrig' to depict a millionaire and I'm sure that it fooled nobody in it's disguise. James Mason as 'Dr Quinada' is watchable and holds the interest as Ryan's rival in love for Barbara Bel Geddes. He gets, for me, the best line in the film when he says to Bel Geddes on recently meeting Ryan "I've met that man for 3 minutes....and he's not normal..." It's funny because it could apply to so many people that I know - not me, of course.
However, there is something not quite right in the casting of Barbara Bel Geddes. She is slightly frumpy (Shelley Winters style) with a slightly whiny voice (Julie Harris style) and I'm afraid that she is just not believable as the object of desire for these two handsome men. No way. Aside from her appearance, she's actually quite irritating in her meek and mild manner. Ingrid Bergman would have been perfect in this role as she not only plays a victim very well, has the looks/beauty to convince, but she could also convey a more dramatic turnaround in her attitude once she decides to get tough.
A final mention must go to the peculiar way of ending the film - a dead child is something to be celebrated? Wow. Overall, it's an OK film but it's nothing great - Robert Ryan saves it.