Like LAURA on steroids . . . and not in a good way. That 1944 hit serves as obvious template in the early going of this slightly ludicrous (if watchable) murder mystery among the backstabbing Manhattan glam set. Portrait of a missing beauty who returns from the dead? Check. Multiple suitors & gossip-wielding media sophisticates? (Broadcasters instead of publishers.) Check. Air rife with perversion & near-incestuous longings? Check. Director Michael Curtiz lays on the dark-and-stormy atmosphere with a trowel, but can’t make much sense of a too twisty plot in what was meant to be a breakout first-release for his new production company with a fresh star in weightless leading man Ted North. (Renamed Michael for the occasion, he was never heard of again.) Elsewise, Joan Caulfield as the girl everyone longs to lay is upstaged by tasty supporting turns from Audrey Totter & Constance Bennett while Claude Rains in yet another impersonation of viperous radio critic/personality Alexander Woollcott, enjoys himself, but pulled off the same stunt to better effect against Bette Davis & Paul Henreid in DECEPTION the year before. (That one's worth it just for the outré modern sets from this film’s designer Anton Grot, and for the Erich Wolfgang Korngold score w/ mini-cello concerto. See below.)
DOUBLE-BILL: As mentioned, DECEPTION/’46.