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: The Locket (1946)  ( 330 )

« : February 08, 2017, 01:05:00 PM »

Don't tell me your conscience is bothering you?

The locket is directed by John Brahm and based on a screenplay written by Sheridan Gibney, which in turn is adapted from the story "What Nancy Wanted" written by Norma Barzman. It stars Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchum and Gene Raymond. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca.

Story tells of how a bride to be, who as a child was traumatised by a false charge of stealing, grows up to badly affect the men who wander into her life.

"You don't know the truth from lies, you are just a love sick quack"

A psychological melodrama with film noir flecks, The Locket turns out to be a most intriguing picture. Director Brahm brings into the production not only his baroque know how, where his Germanic keen eye for mood is so evident in films like The Lodger and Hangover Square, but also a dizzying array of flashbacks in a collage of psychological murkiness. Structured as it is, film can be disorientating if one isn't giving the film the undivided attention it needs. But for those all in with it, it delivers rewards a plenty, even if some daft touches stop it from being an essential picture for the genre seeker. Essentially the film is a case study of one young female mind deeply affected to the point that it has great implications on those who become involved with her.

Story raises some queries about the treatment of mental health patients, and their place in society, while some of the characterisations have good dramatic worth. Sheridan Gibney does a very good job with the screenplay, the tricky subject is given some thoughtful consideration whilst toying with the audience's loyalties about possible femme fatale, Nancy (Day), the ambivalence of which makes the ending from a writing standpoint far better than it probably has any right to be. Credit is due to Brahm, then, for bringing it home safely after employing such a tricky narrative device, it's far from being up with his best work, but it does showcase what a talent the German émigré was - the visual grab of the finale a case in point.

Of the cast it's the very pretty Laraine Day (latterly of I Married a Communist) who shines in a tricky role, while there's a nice stern performance in the support slots from Katherine Emery as Mrs. Mills. Mitchum was yet to find his acting marker (which would come the following year in Out of the Past and Crossfire), and here he's a touch miscast and gets by on presence alone - with his character getting one of the films' duffer leaps in logic moments, literally! and Aherne, is passable and easy to listen to, but never really convinces as a psychiatrist. Musuraca photographs in suitable black and white shadowy tones, but like Brahm and Mitchum, this is far from the upper echelons of his best work.

If you can get past some daft touches and crucially pay attention, The Locket is well worth the time spent with it. 7/10

cigar joe
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« #1 : February 08, 2017, 03:38:32 PM »

Old thread on The Locket from Rate The Last Movie You Watched:

dave jenkins

Good news:,default,pd.html?cgid=ARCHIVENEW

The Film Noir Forum has this review of the film (

Made in the stark "film noir" style that was popular for crime dramas in the forties and fifties, "The Locket" deals with a similar theme to Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie", that of a beautiful but psychologically disturbed young woman whose disturbance manifests itself as kleptomania, an uncontrollable impulse to steal. The main character, Nancy Monks, is a working-class girl who as a child was wrongly accused by her mother's wealthy employer of stealing a valuable locket and harshly beaten. The memory of this injustice has scarred Nancy ever since, and in adult life she tries to revenge herself on the world by stealing jewelery. Her compulsion to steal wrecks first her relationship with Norman Clyde, a young artist, and then her marriage to Harry Blair, a psychiatrist. Nancy's crimes may, indeed, go beyond mere theft; there is a suggestion that she may have committed a murder in the course of one robbery, a murder for which an innocent man suffers the death penalty.

Much of the comment on this film has centred on its unusually baroque structure, complex even by today's standards and even more so by those of the forties. It has been described as a "flashback within a flashback within a flashback". (The main action takes place on the morning of Nancy's second wedding. The story of her marriage to Blair is told in the first flashback, which contains a second flashback telling Clyde's story as told to Blair, which in turn contains a flashback narrating the story of her childhood). Despite this intricate construction, however, the plot line is never difficult to follow.

The film's links to Hitchcock's works go beyond a thematic resemblance to "Marnie". The set used for the house of Nancy's mother's employer is the same one used for the house of Alex Sebastian in "Notorious"; in both cases it serves to suggest opulent wealth combined with coldness. More importantly, the film-makers clearly shared the fascination with psychology that was obvious in such Hitchcock films as "Spellbound" or "Psycho". Such a fascination, particularly with the theories of Freud, was, in fact, quite common in the cinema around this period, although these theories were often somewhat bowdlerised. The censors were clearly uncomfortable with Freud's insistence on the particular importance of sexual experiences in influencing the human psyche. (I was interested to read the comments of the reviewer who pointed out the use of the locket of the title as a symbol of repressed memory).

Despite these thematic links it is not really accurate to describe the film as "minor league Hitchcock" as one reviewer did. I have not seen any of John Brahm's other films, but "The Locket" is the work of a major-league player. It is not a suspense film in the normal Hitchcock style but rather a melodrama. Brahm is able to get good performances out of his actors, particularly from Robert Mitchum as Clyde and Laraine Day, an actress with whom I was not previously familiar, as Nancy. The melodramatic style requires a non-naturalistic heightening of emotion; in some films this might have come across as over-acting, but here it is quite deliberate, done for increased dramatic effect and in line with the dark, neo-Gothic tone of the film. This is not a well-known film today, but I was lucky enough to catch it when it was recently shown on British television, and was not disappointed.


The Locket (1946)   Not bad thriller, though you know how it is gonna end, and that end is little credible (the woman's crisis). Even Mitchum's demise could have got a better treatment, at least  planting the doubt it wasn't a suicide. 6\10

« : February 08, 2017, 03:40:33 PM cigar joe »

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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