*** out of 5
"You're a big man, but you're not big enough to destroy her."
Max Ophuls. James Mason. Robert Ryan. Barbara Bel Geddes. For the win.
Barbara Bel Geddes is very good in this dramatic and interesting tale of a social climber who realizes too late that what she really wants isn't security, but happiness, something wealthy industrialist Robert Ryan refuses to give her. Ryan makes his character unique and compelling, and just as unlikeable as possible, with a distinctive psychosomatic heart condition brought on by an ego that refuses to lose to anyone at anything. James Mason is the kind, poor man's physician Bel Geddes turns to as her alternative to the cold Ryan character. Curt Bois has an interesting supporting role as Franzi Kartos, the weaselly little man Ryan sends out to gather his women, and generally do his dirty work for him, but who ultimately has a basic humanity that Ryan's character is incapable of allowing in himself.
The camerawork is also noteworthy, for many attempts to bring fluid, active camera movement into play in ways that were seldom attempted at the time. Particularly interesting is a scene played out in a single shot that sweeps back and forth in the doctor's office, in a conversation between Mason, his obstetrician partner Frank Ferguson, and Bel Gedde's empty receptionist desk and chair that stands between their two adjacent offices.