Monday, September 7, 2020

Noir Watch: The Unfaithful (1947)


Watched:  I dunno.  A couple of months ago.
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director: Vincent Sherman

I just totally forgot to write this one up and realized that today whilst thinking about Zachary Scott.  As you do.

The Unfaithful (1947) is essentially a domestic version of The Letter, the extraordinary William Wyler film starring Bette Davis.  This version transplants the action from rubber farms in the Maylay Peninsula to suburban Los Angeles just after WWII and puts Ann Sheridan in the lead.  None of that is a problem, and were The Letter not such a bombshell of a movie, The Unfaithful would shine brighter.  

Sheridan plays the wife of a developer (Zachary Scott) who comes home late from a party while her husband is out of town on business only to be attacked by a man who follows her into her house.  By the time Zach Scott gets home (on an early morning flight) the police are there and sorting through the dead body of the man on the floor of his living room and his wife traumatized upstairs.

The underlying suggestion is robbery and attempted sexual assault, but pieces start coming apart as Sheridan's story is shakey and her attorney (played by Lew Ayres playing Lew Ayres) is summoned to an antique shop where a bust of Sheridan is revealed, signed by the killer - establishing a prior relationship.

It's a wild movie for the Hayes Code era.  Essentially it both admits out loud that young women who married soldiers who were then shipped off immediately maybe were not always true-blue to their husbands.  To see Sheridan agreeing to play the role means she wanted something grittier - even if it's still playing a character with a high coat of gloss (by Woman on the Run, she's playing a lot more earthy a character).  

The film has Eve Arden as Scott's cousin, and she is freaking fantastic.  

All in all, it's a solid potboiler.  I wish Scott had been given more to do, but I kind of feel that way about all of the characters.  It doesn't ever feel like they take much direct action and are just sort of watching as well as events unfold.  

Honestly, I more or less enjoyed the film, but would just push you at The Letter instead, if you hadn't seen it yet.  

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