A Film Noir kinda morning – Possessed (1947)

I’ve never really had much of an interest in film noir and haven’t seen a whole lot. But, for some reason I decided I should at least dip my foot in the genre…see what all the fuss is about. It’s kind of like giallos…where the hell do you start? There are so many films out there.

This morning I watched Possessed, a 1947 film starring Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, Raymond Massey and Geraldine Brooks.

Crawford plays Lousie, a woman found roaming the streets of Los Angeles, all confused and muttering to herself about a man called David…she gets taken to a hospital, where she starts telling her story.

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So, this David is the love of her life, but it becomes immediately clear that he’s a bit of a bastard. As soon as she starts talking about her feelings towards him he starts panicking…so he breaks up with her.

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“I love you is such an inadequate way of saying I love you. It doesn’t quite describe how much it hurts sometimes.”

One of the first things that strikes you is how well-written it is. Those memorable one-liners (like the one above) just keep coming, one after the other, each more heart-breaking than the previous one.

Anyway, Louise is a nurse working for a somewhat older man, Dean Graham, and his sickly wife. When the wife eventually dies, Mr Graham begs Louise to stay and eventually asks her to marry him. Well, not immediately of course. The problem is that Mr Graham and David are old buddies, so poor Louise can’t escape her old love. And not just that…it seems like David is a bit hung-up on her as well.

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Grumpy David!

Soon, it all gets a bit too much for Lousie. And she starts freaking out about all sorts of things. Was she responsible for her husband’s ex-wife’s death? But, she was in the village, right? Right?

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David certainly isn’t helping things. He develops a bit of a thing Mr Graham’s younger daughter, played by the stunning Geraldine Brooks and tries to turn her against Louise.

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Carol: “Aren’t you overdoing it? How about your insides?”
David: “My liver rushes in where angels fear to tread”

Seriously, the dialogue is just so great. Some nuggets…

David: “I’m sorry, Louise. I seldom hit a woman, but if you don’t leave me alone I’ll wind up kicking babies”

David: “you know, we could’ve been friends easily…if we’d met a few days sooner or a long time later…it’s too bad”

Lousie: “I don’t know why I don’t hate you”
David: “You don’t try hard enough. You should force yourself”

David: “I’d rather be shot by a jealous woman than a noble one”

David: “It’d be silly of you to kill me…there’s still a lot of pain and unhappiness in store for me. You wouldn’t want me to miss all that, now would you?”

Possessed is definitely worth seeing. Great dialogue and brilliant performances all round. Sure, it’s almost too melodramatic at times, but at the same time it’s so engaging that it doesn’t matter. And again, the wonderful script makes it easy to overlook whatever flaws there are. Also, for a film that was made in the 40s it deals with the issue of mental illness in a surprisingly tender and understanding way.

The trailer…

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