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Saturday, August 22, 2015

CONFLICT (1945)

Little more than a glossy programmer, this Perfect-Crime thriller finds over-parted Humphrey Bogart as an unhappy husband whose wandering eye drifts toward Alexis Smith, his wife’s kid-sister. Robert Siodmak’s original story plays second-cousin to last year's hit GASLIGHT/’44, but with the killer rather than the victim getting the ‘gaslight’ treatment.* Not a bad idea, but Curtis Bernhardt’s helming smells of Summer Stock rep. There’s a typically amusing turn from Sydney Greenstreet as college psychologist/amateur sleuth, but the main interest comes early, in the harrowing depiction of a marriage gone dead between Bogart and a vicious Rose Hobart. They’re straight out of Edward Albee. (Bogie knew the territory, battling out a divorce from wife #3 Mayo Methot at the time.) Presumably, Warners was happy with the results, putting Bogart & Smith (along with Barbara Stanwyck) thru similar hoops in THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS/’47. You may feel more conflicted.

DOUBLE-BILL: *Siodmak found more thrills and a better murderer that year as director of THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE/’45.

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