The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (4)
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It certainly makes for the purest and most impossible love of [Max] Ophuls' films, and for me, the most emotionally compelling.
a rather original take on what is usually a very pedestrian setup
A very engaging thriller...
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.
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.
Affecting but slightly unsatisfying real-world noir. Wonderful in parts but rushed in others. I'm thinking perhaps the demands of Hollywood and a modest budget took a couple courses out of this film.
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
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