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THE LOCKET (1946)

Article 3039 by Dave Sindelar 
Viewing Date: 9-2-2009
Posting Date: 12-9-2009
Directed by John Brahm
Featuring Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchum
Country: USA
What it is: Psychodrama thriller with very slight horror element

On the day that a rich gentleman is about to be married to a seemingly perfect woman, he is visited by a psychiatrist who claims to be the woman's former husband. The psychiatrist claims that the woman is a thief and a murderer, but is he telling the truth...?

John Stanley's CREATURE FEATURES MOVIE GUIDE STRIKES AGAIN, in which this was listed, makes it sound like more of a horror movie than it really is. Though there's no doubt that madness plays a role in the proceeding, the woman in question is never played with that evil veneer that would give the movie that horror edge; instead, she's played as a perpetually misunderstood victim, an approach which makes me feel that she genuinely believes her lies, which in itself is an unsettling form of madness. If the horror content is slight, that doesn't mean it's not a good movie; it's excellent, and it features a memorable performance by Robert Mitchum, whose final scene here is one of the high points in the movie. It's directed by John Brahm, who gave us THE LODGER and HANGOVER SQUARE, and though I don't think this movie is quite as consistent as either of these, he does give us a great ending scene in which one character's guilt overtakes them. The structure itself is interesting; most of the story is told in flashback, which itself contains further flashbacks, and they get nested three deep at one point. The locket of the title plays both a role in the deepest flashback, serves as a key element in the psychological description of the woman, and returns as an element of the story in the final scenes.

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