[font=Arial].. but this film, perhaps more highly regarded because it was thought to be lost for many years, is pretty ordinary film noir. There are half a dozen or so discernible film noir conventions that define a movie as noir. One is, people are rotten, and women are the rottenest people. Claire Cummings is an archtype for tawdry women: ambitious, completely inner-directed, amoral, oblivious to all except her own desires, conniving, manipulative, a pathological liar .. and gorgeous.
Her looks easily ensnare the men around her, and those same looks blind them to what she's capable of until it's too late. What this movie lacks, however, is this requisite corruption in the rest of Claire's universe. The police are honest, even competent; her lovers are mostly straight arrows; the newspaper where she works is not a scandal sheet dishing dirt on the rich and famous. Claire is thoroughly rotten, and there's a blackmailer, who knows what she did and tries to cut himself in on her inheritance .. but these are the only ones. There is none of the overwhelming sense that the whole world was full of Claires that we see in some film noirs.
She has one mostly normal relationship with a reporter she works with. He sees her for what she is, but seems unwilling or unable to walk away from her wiles. So, he's a prime candidate for one of the other conventions of film noir, that men are weak and stupid. Claire wraps him around her finger, and keeps him on a leash pretty much throughout. But, even Les comes to his senses when she frames him for one of her murders. "You're not warm. You're ice .. Blonde Ice!" he says at one point.
Claire kills to get ahead, or stay ahead. She kills her first husband for his money, becomes engaged to a congressman-elect for the position that will give her, and kills the would-be blackmailer to cover her tracks. We get the idea what kind of babe she is at her wedding where she makes excuses to leave the groom and is kissing Les, the man she still has feelings for, on the terrace.
A quick embrace and the thrill of forbidden pleasures is enough to keep the boyfriend interested, and a peck on the cheek with a little smoke and mirrors explanation of how it was just a friendly good-bye kiss is enough to soothe the husband's ruffled feathers. Her charm, her guile and her looks are how she gets through life.
Did I mention she was gorgeous?
But, there's another rule in film noir: evil schemes *never* succeed. There's always a day of reckoning, even if you're drop-dead gorgeous, and that moment comes for Claire. When it arrives it is weak, frankly, and largely unsatisfying. It involves a psychiatrist, and a lot of 40's psychobabble about the nature of crime that clearly removes this little thriller from any serious contention as film noir.
Not bad. I'll watch it again. 6.5 out of 10.[/font]