The Reckless Moment


The Reckless Moment

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 952
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Movie Info

Living in upper-middle-class luxury, Joan Bennett discovers that her daughter has been seeing an unscrupulous older man. The man attempts to blackmail Bennett with the packet of letters written by her daughter. When a struggle with the man results in his accidental death, things get even more complicated.


James Mason
as Martin Donnelly
Joan Bennett
as Lucia Harper
Geraldine Brooks
as Bea Harper
David Bair
as David Harper
Henry O'Neill
as Mr. Harper
David Blair
as David Harper
Paul E. Burns
as Desk Clerk
Dan Jackson
as Drummer
Billy Snyder
as Gambler
John Monaghan
as Policeman
Peter Brocco
as Bartender
Joe Palma
as Card Player
Ann Shoemaker
as Mrs. Feller
Everett Glass
as Drug Clerk
Buddy Gorman
as Magazine Clerk
Body Davis
as Tall Man
Pat Barton
as Receptionist
John K. Butler
as Pawnbroker
Kathryn Card
as Mrs. Loring
Joseph Palmas
as Card Player
Pat O'Malley
as Bank Guard
Charles Evans
as Bank Official
Jessie Arnold
as Old Lady
Boyd Davis
as Tall Man
Celeste Savoi
as Waitress
Norman Leavitt
as Second Postal Clerk
Joe Rechts
as Newsboy
Sue Moore
as Woman
Joe Recht
as Newsboy
Mike Mahoney
as Policeman
Glenn Thompson
as Policeman
Harry Harvey
as Post Office Clerk
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Critic Reviews for The Reckless Moment

All Critics (4)

Audience Reviews for The Reckless Moment

  • Jun 10, 2014
    Some obvious Hayes Code constraints keep this film from being meaner and more twisted, but all in all, not a bad story about a mother trying to keep her family's respectable name out of the muck when her reckless daughter gets in involved with a hustler, and attracts a blackmailer (James Mason glows in this role.) Credible, well-structured, and well-conceived, The Reckless Moment is a cut above the usual fare.
    Pamela D Super Reviewer
  • May 16, 2012
    The last of director Max Ophüls' Hollywood films, The Reckless Moment doesn't necessarily distinguish itself other than Joan Bennett's intense performance. It's actually a rather unconventional film noir starring Bennett as the well-to-do mother of a teenage daughter who's gotten herself mixed up with the wrong sort of man. The mother goes to confront this man and he offers to stop seeing the girl in exchange for a payoff. When he comes snooping around late one night, the daughter rejects him physically, and the man winds up dead. Desperate to keep her daughter out of trouble, the mother covers up the any evidence the dead man was ever there and and dumps his body off somewhere else. Soon afterward, a blackmailer (James Mason) enters the picture, threatening to expose the girl's love letters to the deceased man if he's not given $5000. In spite of a somewhat ridiculous storyline, Bennett shines as the no-nonsense, unbending woman who fights to protect the cozy home she's created. The father is completely out of the picture, of course, and it's up to the strong mother figure to keep this structure of civility from crashing down around their ears. James Mason as the charming villain meets the only end he can possibly meet within the film's circumstances. It's a shame for such a strong woman to have to go without the love of a man. Duty tells her to remain faithful to the disembodied voice over the telephone, rather than run off with the charming and dangerously foreign blackmailer, but standards and morals of the 1940s dictates this more forcibly than the heart does.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2012
    Taut drama with the always underrated Joan Bennett great as the panicked mother and James Mason just right as the conflicted anti-hero. Wonderfully directed by Ophuls and atmospherically shot this was updated as The Deep End with Tilda Swinton also a fine film but this has a distinct allure of its own.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Aug 19, 2010
    nominally film noir, the film has more in common with the melodramas of douglas sirk. based on a story from the ladie's home journal, as many so-called 'women's pictures' were, the plot follows an upper middle class housewife trying to keep her family running smoothly in her husband's absence. and when i say follows i also mean literally with ophuls trademark sweeping camera moves. joan bennett is given a chance to break out of bad girl roles as the family matriarch who tries to interfere in her daughter's affair with a scoundrel. when he is accidentally killed shortly afterward, she takes it on herself to dispose of the body in order to protect her offspring! this proves to be a fatal error as she is soon confronted by a handsome blackmailer in the figure of james mason, leading to a rather unlikely turn of events. i don't think the story is fleshed out enough to be entirely convincing. the best scenes are those of joan fruitlessly trying to raise the money, depicting the powerlessness of women in a patriarchal society. the film was remade in 2001 as the deep end with tilda swinton
    Stella D Super Reviewer

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