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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 October 2016
This 1946 Bette Davis melodrama combines over-the-top plotting and acting with classical music. I saw the film in a large, beautiful theater as part of "Noir City D.C." an annual festival of noir film. Foster Hirsch, film scholar and author, introduced the film, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. He observed that it would be difficult today to make a popular film with classical music as a theme, at least to the extent this was attempted in the 1940s and 50s.

The film features passionate acting by Bette Davis as the virtuoso pianist Christine Radcliffe. More than music, the film shows the consequences of living a lie. Set in post WW II New York City, the film opens when Christine's long lost lover, cellist Karel Novak, comes to New York from Europe where he has survived the War. Christine and Karel reignite their passion and quickly marry. But in the meantime, Christine has become the mistress of the wealthy, brilliant, and egomaniacal composer Alexander Hollenius (Claude Rains) who has lavished her with an apartment, gifts, and a regal lifestyle. Christine tries through every ruse and lie to keep Karel from knowledge of the affair. But Holleniius is determined to get his revenge and to make the couple's life miserable. Better Davis' performance is full of guile, deceit, determination, and smoldering sexuality. Hollenius, a gifted composer, is maniacal, self-centered and insanely jealous. Karel is suspicious, jealous, but also seems to be willing to accept the situation if Christine had leveled with him from the beginning.

The story builds in emotion to a climactic, murderous conclusion and an unhappy ending. Beautiful music and a devotion to art will not make a good life in the face of a lie. The ravishing musical score for the film was composed by Eric Korngold, who made his own composition out of the cello concerto by Hollenius that plays a substantial part in the story. Other music that appears in the film includes Beethoven's "Appasionata" piano sonata and seventh symphony, Schubert's unfinished symphony, and a Schubert piano impromptu arranged for cello.

I was glad to see this classic film which combines my passion for music and more recent interest in film noir. I was fortunate to see the film on screen at the annual D.C. Noir Film Festival.

Robin Friedman
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on 23 February 2011
Lightening does not often strike and when it does it's invariably not in the same place. The team behind the classic `Now Voyager' reformed to create `Deception', but failed to recapture former glories. With the likes of Bette Davis as a lead it would take some doing to make a film that was not at least average, but unfortunately `Deception' fails to do even this. Davis plays Christine who arrives in on screen during a recital by Karel Novak, it turns out that they knew each other before the war and were very much in love. Christine believed Karel to be dead, but on his return she wishes to marry immediately. However, are they the same people? Christine is keeping a secret that might rip them apart once more.

Sounds like grade A melodrama fodder. There are a number of issues that prevent this from being true. Davis is not the most pleasant of characters as Christine, but she has shown in the likes of `In This Our Life' that she can play bad and still be very good. Claude Rains is the best thing in the film as eccentric composer Alexander Hollenius; he has the power to play the part well. It is the third lead, Paul Henreid as Karel, who is flat. With one part of the love triangle failing, the whole story becomes limp with a lack the passion. The film is also undermined by the silly conceit that underpins Christine's `deception'. Films in the 40s often work because values were stricter then and love could break easily, but for Christine to do what she does is tantamount to stupidity. She has almost Australian Soap levels of ineptitude to dig herself deeper into a problem that is not even very real.

With the love interest feeling a little flat and a poor central premise the whole film hangs off nothing. The audience cannot begin to care about the characters and this undermines the acting. A real shame as this is a rare Davis misfire.
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on 20 December 2011
The golden years of hollywood when producers/directors and the stars brought to the world the joy of life. Bette Davis was a big star her movies never failed to entertain you. Wherever she is I hope she is still acting up their in the big ranch.
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on 5 October 2013
Yes, it's true. Here is one film of hers that I had no idea she had made and it's classic Bette Davis art!!!
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on 10 July 2015
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on 9 February 2015
Bette never disappoints!
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on 6 April 2015
Bette at her usual best
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on 18 March 2015
This is one of the late actress lesser known films it is set during world two a woman's husband goes away to war and she has an affair with a brutal man, as I haven't watched it yet this is from the back cover of the DVD.
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on 9 May 2015
value for money
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