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: Conflict (1945)  ( 1292 )
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« : June 21, 2013, 01:54:56 AM »

Conflict (1945) 7.5/10

Plot synopsis: Humphrey Bogart is in an unhappy marriage and has a crush on his wife's younger sister.

Director:Curtis Bernhardt

Cast, courtesy of imdb:

 Humphrey Bogart    ...    Richard Mason
Alexis Smith    ...    Evelyn Turner
Sydney Greenstreet    ...    Dr. Mark Hamilton
Rose Hobart    ...    Kathryn Mason
Charles Drake ... Prof. Norman Holsworth
Grant Mitchell ... Dr. Grant
Patrick O'Moore ... Det. Lt. Egan
Ann Shoemaker ... Nora Grant
Edwin Stanley .... Phillips

    previous post by  titoli: Conflict (1945) Though the beginning is too talky and the end predictable, what's in between, based on rather worn tricks, keeps your attention mainly because Bogart is at his best ( I saw the movie dubbed: so I can't judge about Greenstreet's performance). Probably you wouldn't want to watch it again, but it's worth a look. 7\10



                                          Conflict (1945)

“Conflict” is an often overlooked entry in Humphrey Bogart’s filmography, a picture he didn’t want to make, and one which pales in comparison to many of the classics dotted throughout his career. Yet I’ve always had a fondness for this minor noir, and having revisited it recently, I couldn’t resist picking it as my NOTW.

Bogart is Richard Mason, successful engineer, just celebrating five years of marriage to Kathryn (Rose Hobart). Underneath the veneer of this idyllic marriage, however, the Masons’ relationship has degenerated into deep bitterness. Richard is in love with his wife’s younger sister, Evelyn (Alexis Smith), but knows that Kathryn will never grant him his freedom.
When he suffers a broken leg in a car accident, Richard sees a chance to escape his situation: Arranging a vacation at a mountain resort, he persuades his wife to make the long drive alone. That night, Richard intercepts Kathryn on the deserted mountain road and kills her, returning home before he’s missed, and maintaining the pretence that he’s still immobile from his broken leg, by way of an alibi.

As the police search for his apparently missing wife, Richard is free to develop his relationship with Evelyn, but odd things soon start to happen: Richard smells his wife’s perfume at home; he receives mail apparently written by her, and then thinks he sees her walk by on the street. He begins to ask himself, is Kathryn still alive - or is something else sinister afoot? With the help of psychiatrist pal Dr Mark Greenwood (Sydney Greenstreet), Richard tries to solve the puzzle, without revealing his own guilt in the process …


Of course, Kathryn IS dead. It transpires that Dr Hamilton suspected Richard from the outset and, together with the police; he concocted an elaborate scheme to convince Richard that his wife was alive. The hope was that Richard would slip up and reveal his guilt, which he finally does - returning to the scene of the crime for proof that Kathryn is dead, only to be caught red-handed by Hamilton and the cops.

As evinced by its relative obscurity, “Conflict” is not a first-rate Bogart noir. It doesn’t help that the film is saddled with a vague, flat title that hardly engenders excitement, but my main problem is with the character of Evelyn. She’s key to the plot, and yet I found her role to be rather unfocused. She’s not a straight ‘love interest’ – she snubs Richard’s advances, the writers apparently unwilling to have her display feelings for a murderer. On the other hand, Evelyn isn’t given much else to do: she doesn’t harbour any suspicions of Richard’s guilt, nor play much of a part in the main mystery plot. Late in the film, an interesting idea is introduced, when the increasingly paranoid Richard starts to suspect Evelyn of orchestrating Kathryn’s ‘resurrection’, but the idea isn’t followed through and instead Evelyn simply disappears before the film’s climax, her character arc left without proper closure. It’s ‘resolved’ in a couple of throwaway lines between Richard and Dr. Hamilton, establishing that she wasn’t part of the police trap, but we don’t even get to see her reaction to the news that Richard killed her sister. Given that her character is the driving force behind the entire plot – Richard is driven to murder by his desire for her – I’m never happy with the level of development given to her thread of the story.

The elaborate scheme to trap Richard is the film’s main plot, of course. It’s signposted by Dr Hamilton’s line early in the film: “a thought can be like a malignant disease that starts to eat away the will power” - exactly the strategy this expert on the mind uses to set his trap: first planting the seeds of doubt in Richard’s mind, and then manipulating events in order to confuse Richard further, until he begins to crack, unsure whether Kathryn is alive, that someone is toying with him, or even if he may be losing his mind. Privy only to Richard’s side of the story, the viewer is kept equally in the dark. It’s a well-sustained mystery, and on first viewing it kept me guessing until the climax, although more astute viewers could probably guess what’s going on.

My only criticism is the plot’s utter implausibility - would the police really allow an outsider like Hamilton (who should be a suspect himself) to orchestrate such an outlandish scheme? I can imagine it now: the detective in charge approaches his boss: “Hey, Lieutenant, mind if I borrow Carol from traffic for a couple hours? I need her to dress up as a suspect’s dead wife. Yeah, it’s all to drive the guy to a nervous breakdown; a new technique we’re trying out.”

A little implausibility never really hurt anybody, though. Like another of my favourite Bogart films, the recent NOTW “Dark Passage”, if you can suspend your disbelief you should find much to enjoy here. “Conflict” is a product of the slick Warner Bros. machine of the period, and comes with all the benefits: good supporting cast, solid direction from Curtis Bernhardt (who would later re-team with Bogart for “Sirocco”), and top production values. In fact, if nothing else, the movie looks great. The scenes on the deserted highway (where Richard murders his wife) are my favourite; richly lit and swimming with fog, these scenes are tremendously ominous and atmospheric.

The film also boasts an interesting protagonist in Richard Mason; he reminds me of the very best “Columbo” villains, those who are more complex, sympathetic characters than just your standard killer-of-the-week. Bogart does a good job of conveying the inner turmoil of a man driven to murder by desire and desperation, and unable to escape the repercussions of his act. Finding inspiration for his performance couldn’t have been difficult: in an interesting parallel to his character, Bogart also celebrated his fifth wedding anniversary while shooting the film in 1943. His volatile marriage to Mayo Methot was steadily disintegrating and Bogart was not happy off-set. Fortunately he fared better than Richard Mason, and by the time the picture opened two years later, Bogart was divorced from Methot, and had found new happiness with Lauren Bacall.

Finally, I can’t fail to mention the inimitable Sydney Greenstreet. Lending the film his usual larger-than-life presence in support, he carves a typically memorable performance out of a rather bland character

...It’s certainly no classic, but it remains, in my opinion, a thoroughly entertaining slice of noir.

« : February 27, 2017, 12:55:04 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #1 : September 02, 2013, 04:44:06 AM »

Watched this last night 6-7 out of 10.

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« #2 : February 27, 2017, 12:36:04 PM »

Another film in the Psycho Bogie series. The first was probably the Duke Mantee role in Petrified Forest. I don't know the 30s films, but I imagine he's pretty psycho in The Return of Dr. X. Then there are great moments in psycho-drama in The Two Mrs. Carrols. He goes nuts in Sierra Madre, of course. In a Lonely Place plays with the idea, but in the end Dixon Steele is really just a guy with anger issues. Of course, Cpt. Queeg is found out in The Caine Mutiny.

Bogart played a lot of gangsters, but it's important to distinguish his evil roles from his psycho roles. Roy Earle, for example, is a sociopath rather than a psychopath.

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« #3 : June 10, 2018, 11:01:13 PM »

I had a chance to see parts of this film a few days ago. I was impressed with what I saw. Bogart sure was a top-notch actor.

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