Exceptional (and exceptionally dark) film noir from director Henry Hathaway who smartly misdirects us thru its well-worn plot , but can’t quite make up for pallid leading man Mark Stevens. Everybody else is a knock-out, starting with Clifton Webb, who follows up on his breakout role in LAURA/’44 with another effete type who’s obsessed with a younger girl, this time his wife. Add in her opportunistic lover boy (a deliciously slimy Kurt Kreuger); a couple of Private Dicks chasing each other (Stevens and William Bendix wearing an out-of-season white suit); and Stevens’ smart, loyal secretary (Lucille Ball in smashing form). Plus, there's New York’s swankiest art gallery with Vermeer’s Girl With Pearl Earring in the main room and a late Rembrandt self-portrait on a stair wall! No wonder we don’t see what’s coming.
DOUBLE-BILL: Hathaway would top this with his next noir, KISS OF DEATH/’47, the one that made a star out of Richard Widmark’s giggling psychopath.