One of the few (if any at the time this film was made) films shot in England with New York City's 'Little Italy" as the locale. This was Edward Dmytryk's first film after he had refused to ... See full summary »
During the War of 1812, the U.S. tasks Captain James Marshall to sail through the British blockade and bring back a French loan in gold but the secret leaks out and many greedy hands, including the mutinous crew's, are after the gold.
London psychiatrist Clive Riordan, royally fed up with the repeated affairs of his wife Storm, plots a seemingly 'perfect' revenge against her latest lover, American Bill Kronin. Catching them in the act, he marches Bill off at gunpoint; and from the viewpoint of Storm and the rest of the world, Bill simply vanishes. But there's far more to the meticulously worked out plot than Clive's victims suspect, with the end slowly preparing in his private laboratory. Enter a mild-mannered Scotland Yard man, who seemingly has no clue beyond a missing dog...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Phil Brown (Bill) is best known to Star Wars fans as Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen See more »
Crew member with folded arms visible in the reflection of the car window when the Superintendant is sending his officers back the station. See more »
Dr. Clive Riordan:
Are you married, Mr. Finsbury?
No... I've often thought about it. Trouble is, I've thought about it so long, I'm afraid I've missed the bus.
Dr. Clive Riordan:
Just one of life's little jokes, isn't it?... It points out our mistakes too late for us to profit by them.
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Obsession (AKA: The Hidden Room) is directed by Edward Dmytryk and adapted to screenplay by Alec Coppel from his own book and play. It stars Robert Newton, Phil Brown, Sally Gray and Naunton Wayne. Music is by Nino Rota and cinematography by C.M. Pennington-Richards.
Finally having had enough of his wife's affair with a young lover, Dr. Clive Riordan (Newton) plots a devilish scheme of kidnap and murder...
The motive that drives the plot of Obsession is simple in the extreme, this is out and out a revenge for infidelity, but the presentation by Dmytryk is superbly crafty in that Hitchcockian way. The doctor is a most elegant and calm man, he has the perfect murder in mind for his wife's lover (Brown) and he, being a purveyor of psychological smarts, is going to enjoy the luxury of methodically taunting his prey over a period of time.
With the man ingeniously incarcerated down in a bombed out abode, and subjected to daily visits from the doctor, Dr. Clive is then seen going about his normal routines. Exchanging brandy sips with cultural chatter in the gentleman's club, swatting away the attentions of his increasingly fraught wife (Gray), and of course dealing with the close attentions of Scotland Yard; here in the form of Naunton Wayne's astute Superintendent Finsbury. The "good" doctor even has plenty of time to indulge in his love of model train set construction.
The initial plot machinations are slowly paced by the recently blacklisted director, but it's a deliberate ploy since the whole complexion of the movie changes once the kidnap occurs and the police and the press become involved. The atmosphere becomes tense, and this even as captor and captive enjoy some straight backed - prim and proper - verbal exchanges. There's a meticulousness to the murder based thematics that strike a chord, the mention of Crippen and obvious nods to John George Haigh keep the film buzzing with real life serial killer atrocities.
There's a case to be made here that this is Dmytryk's best British film? Certainly his ability to build suspense without histrionics or blood letting is a masterclass in Brit thriller staging. While his directing of Newton and Wayne, both of whom are excellent, is also worthy of a pat on the back. Visually it's straight black and white photography, except for the odd time we are out on the wet cobbled streets and the gaslights ooze the ethereal. But although there's some debate about if it deserves film noir status, I personally feel it's the sort of crime/thriller mounted with enough skill to make it worth seeking out by the film noir loving crowd.
Some of the support turns are stiff, but mercifully not film harming, while you do have to accept that the locale of the crime is hardly water tight and most likely would have been found with ease. But minor itches be damned, this is cunning, crafty and a British chiller of some worth. 8/10
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