7.2/10
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40 user 29 critic

The Reckless Moment (1949)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 1949 (UK)
After discovering the dead body of her teenage daughter's lover, a housewife takes desperate measures to protect her family from scandal.

Director:

(as Max Opuls)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) (as Robert W. Soderberg) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Tom Harper
...
Ted Darby
David Bair ...
David Harper
...
Nagel
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Storyline

In the charming community of Balboa 50 miles from Los Angeles, middle-class housewife Lucia Harper travels to Los Angeles to meet scoundrel, Ted Darby. Her seventeen year-old daughter Beatrice is in love with Ted. He asks for money to leave Bea, but Lucia refuses to give any. Bea does not believe her mother when told and during the night she sneaks out to the boat garage to meet Ted who admits that Lucia told the truth. Bea pushes him and Ted falls to his on an anchor. The next morning, Lucia finds the body and assumes that Bea has killed her lover. She decides to get rid of the corpse and puts it in her boat and dumps it far from home. When the police find Ted, a stranger, Martin Donnelly, visits Lucia to blackmail her on behalf of his partner, Nagel who has several letters Bea had written to Ted. Donnelly wants $5000 for the letters. The desperate Lucia tries to raise the amount. Martin falls in love with Lucia and tries to help her too. The dangerous Nagel wants to receive the ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It could happen to so many married women ! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1949 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Blank Wall  »

Box Office

Budget:

$882,653 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Mason said that when Columbia refused to director Max Ophüls the permission to light simultaneously two large and separate sets, to allow a long dolly shot from one place to the other, he thought that "Ophuls could not smile anymore from this day." See more »

Quotes

Lucia Harper: Just once, David, I'd like to see you fully clothed.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Deep End (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
When Worlds Collide
17 January 2011 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Upperclass mother (Bennett) is blackmailed because of her indiscreet daughter.

Director Ophuls' leisurely camera work tends to soothe rather than jar, resulting in a style not particularly well suited for the jagged world of classic noir. Still, it is well suited for bringing out character traits as they emerge on a specific background.

Here, a rather ordinary, if upperclass, housewife gets to show her toughness by protecting her family (while Dad's away) from the ignominy of apparent murder and blackmail. So, move over Ozzie&Harriet and Leave It to Beaver, because by implication those well-coiffed housewives of 50's sitcoms are a lot tougher than they look.

Ophuls' dollying camera effectively contrasts the seedy world of the blackmailers with mother Lucia's amiable home life. The problem is that the criminal virus has established a beachhead in her boathouse, and now she must keep it from crossing the yard and invading the family home. Ironically, in order to do that, this law-abiding woman must herself break the law (the reckless moment), resulting in a noirish downward spiral.

Halfway between the worlds of crime and respectability is reluctant blackmailer Donnelly (Mason). In a sense, Lucia meets him there, halfway, but the pull of their respective worlds is too strong to open up a third possibility. I guess my big reservation is with the highly contrived climax that wraps these things up too neatly in typical Production Code fashion. Nor, for that matter, is Donnelly's sudden life-altering devotion that plausible.

Nonetheless, it's a good atmospheric production (check out the moody use of the beach-front breeze), with a fine central performance from Bennett who refuses to go over the top. To me, however, the most unexpectedly jarring part is that very last phone scene—see if you agree.


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