SIFF Says:Young ingénue Leonora Eames comes to Los Angeles in search of a fairy tale life. She finds it, or so she thinks, in multi-millionaire Smith Ohlrig (Robert Ryan), whom she marries after a whirlwind courtship. But despite their lavish lifestyle together and relocating to a posh manor home on Long Island, the marriage quickly grows into an unhappy one—Leonora despondent and bristling beneath the overbearing Olhrig's constant abuse. Unable to secure a divorce from Ohlrig, Leonora leaves, virtually penniless, for New York City, finding work eventually as a receptionist in a poor neighborhood medical clinic run by Dr. Larry Quinada (James Mason). However, after a brief reconciliation with her husband, she becomes pregnant, a situation Ohlrig exploits to force her to return to him despite Leonora’s intense and increasing love for Quinada. Director Max Ophüls’ sublime noir melodrama is a masterpiece of elegant craftsmanship, filled with his distinctive fluid camera work and signature interplay between shadow and light. 35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Preservation funding provided by The Film Foundation and the AFI/NEA Film Preservation Grants Program.
: Movie marriage is always either blissful fantasy or brutal hell. In this case, courtesy of the masterfully menacing Robert Ryan, it’s the latter. Max Ophuls is perversely underrated, but his deft mingling of noir tones with a more profound psychological inquiry—stopping short of interrogating Leonora’s bridal pipe dreams, but only just—was way ahead of the curve in 1949. (SEAN NELSON)
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