Something got lost when this comic-thriller went from stage (a year & a half on B’way) to screen. Under director Peter Godfrey, it goes THUD in the night. Humphrey Bogart’s a morbidly talented artist with a wife, an alarmingly precocious kid and Barbara Stanwyck as his blindsided mistress. She’s shocked to find out he’s married, but once the old wife croaks they start their own peachy-creamy life, until Alexis Smith gets all neighborly, offering herself as a new inspirational canvas for Bogie. Now, it’s Stanwyck’s turn to go all woozy after drinking the nightly glass of milk her husband brings up before beddy-bye. (People sure drank a lot of milk back in the day.) Godfrey would bring much the same Po-faced sincerity to his next film, CRY WOLF/’47, this time with Stanwyck & Errol Flynn, and a much more even tone. Here, everyone seems to lose confidence in the piece as it goes along. At least, Bogie gets to pull out all the stops in the last reel before going out with a decidedly goofy curtain line, nailing the boneheaded tone everyone’s been searching for.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For Stanwyck in hysterical invalid mode, there’s always SORRY, WRONG NUMBER/’48, though it’s not a patch on the original radio drama with Agnes Moorehead. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r5GZral6zs (Even better is the parody version of same w/ Stanwyck & Jack Benny, but it’s hard to find.)