Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
on 20 May 2010
Musician Bette Davis (Christine) tracks down her pre-war love Paul Henreid (Karel) who is performing as a cellist and they marry. However, in the years that they have been apart, ie, the 2nd World War years, Davis has had an affair with superstar composer Claude Rains (Hellonius) which she wants to keep a secret from Henreid. This is the deception that will later prove tragic as Rains is not so keen on her alliance with Henreid and does his best to undermine their union.......
This film belongs to Claude Rains and Bette Davis. Rains is excellent in every scene that he is in and provides great entertainment as a jilted, bitchy prima-donna. The dialogue in this film is very good, especially the scenes between Rains and Davis. Davis's performance comes second to Rains and her "Bette Davis eyes" reactions don't disappoint.
The film also succeeds in it's use of music in both the score for the film and the characters playing the instruments - Rains on the piano, Davis on the piano and Henreid on the cello. Unfortunately, Henreid gives a mixed performance. He is dislikable at the beginning but strangely becomes a more sympathetic character in the last half hour. His personality completely changes from a jumped-up jealous type to an understanding, caring soul. Very strange.
There is also a fundamental flaw in the plot for modern audiences. Why doesn't Davis just tell Henreid that she has had an affair with Rains after presuming Henreid had been killed. It's totally understandable so what's the big deal in keeping it a secret? We have to remind ourselves of a bygone time where social mores were very different from today. Without that mindset, the film seems like a total nonsense in terms of plot. Still, the film is an entertaining story about 3 neurotic musicians and it leaves you thinking about what happens next when it has finished.