Two Mrs Carrolls [VHS]

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  • Stanwyck once again picks Mr. Wrong
    "The Two Mrs. Carrolls" may not be one of the great melodramas from 1940s Hollywood, but it is a fine example of the craftsmanship that went into studio pictures in those days. Its primary importance in film history is that this is the only pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck. While Stanwyck is superb, Bogart, I'm afraid, acts like he is only going through the motions, perhaps because this is what would have been considered a `woman's picture' back then. [Compare this to his amazing performance the next year in the manly "Treasure of the Sierra Madre"]

    When the movie opens, Geoffrey Carroll [Bogart] is seen fishing with Sally [Stanwyck] in Scotland. They've recently met and are in love. When she accidentally discovers that he is married, she ends the affair. In despair, Geoffrey goes home to his wife and daughter in London. The story suddenly shifts forward a couple of years. We find out that the first Mrs. Carroll died, and now Geoffrey and Sally are married. They live a seemingly idyllic life in the country, until Geoffrey meets Cecily, played by a ravishingly beautiful Alexis Smith. For a time, Sally is clueless, but when questions about how Geoffrey's first wife died, Sally finally suspects what we already know: There is something very wrong with her husband and her marriage.

    The story is somewhat absurd, but no one could play a victim, innocent or otherwise, better than Stanwyck, as she was to prove a year later in "Sorry, Wrong Number". She alone is reason enough to see the movie.

    The cinematography by J. Perevell Marley is filled with extraordinary light and shadow. He creates a moody, chilly atmosphere. Composer Franz Waxman, who was creating a film score about every eight weeks in those days, provides some interesting music, although it is not nearly as inspired as his compositions for movies like "Sunset Boulevard" and "A Place in the Sun". Frederick Reynolds' editing is extremely tight for the first thirty minutes or so and is an excellent example of just how spare the art of editing can be....more info

  • Stanwyck's Great, As Always
    As stated in my title, Stanwyck is, as always, great in this movie. She never gave a bad performance, professional that she was. However, Bogart overacted and mugged so terribly for the camera - his exaggerated hand gestures, in particular, are annoying - that the movie is laughable. In fact, it was laughed off the screen when it was released in 1947, two years after filming was completed. I can't imagine what was going on in his mind when he filmed this movie. Stanwyck, professional and committed to perfection once she agreed to appear in a movie, almost certainly regretted starring in this one. This was one of those "stinkers" she referred to in an interview later in her life....still, if only for her acting and for the cliche' atmospherics in the film - which includes endlessly chiming church bells that would drive ANYONE mad, gloomy English rain, the overbearing maid who insults everyone, and a house that looks as if it was decorated with Dracula in mind, it's worth seeing, at least once. Nigel Bruce overacts terribly as the whiskey-loving doctor who attributes every illness to "nerves." And the final confrontation between Bogart and Stanwyck, when Bogart enters Stanwyck's locked bedroom through a second-story window, in the rain, his face lighted from underneath somehow so that he looks extremely confused, almost embarrassed - and certainly not ghoulish, as I'm sure he was intended to, is hilarious. If you weren't laughing before, you'll laugh at this scene. It would have been interesting to see Stanwyck and Bogart reunited in a better movie. They might have had an interesting chemistry. I would love to have seen Stanwyck in a role with Bogart that would have displayed her strength and toughness. See this movie, at least once. Not a good movie - but very interesting....more info
  • Bogart and Stanwyck cast against type
    This Hollywood film starring Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyk was filmed in 1945 but Warners had such little faith in it that it delayed it's release for 2 years. They were probably bewildered at the way director Peter Godfrey used it's two stars since both actors give quiet performances which seem to go against their images. Based on what I presume to be an English play by Marvin Vale, the film is set near London and casts Bogart as an unstable artist who marries Stanwyck to make her the second Mrs Carroll after murdering the first. Bogart's artist predates his paranoid Fred C Dobbs of Treasure of Sierra Madre and his rudeness is funny. Stanwyck gets one shot worth the price of purchase alone. Ascending a staircase, realising Bogart's betrayal with the hourglass-figured Alexis Smith, her acting supported by the expressionist camera angle, her heavy gown and the music of Franz Waxman. The film features a delicious tea party where insults fly and eyes roll. Smith says she is "guarding her diet" and her mother replies "You've practically got a death watch on it". Godfrey gives us a murder without any music and lots of ringing bells to drive Bogart to distraction....more info
  • Love this movie!
    This is a great example of film noir. I wish it would come out in DVD format....more info
  • Another Angel of Death
    Humphrey Bogart is an artist who paints pictures of his wives as the angels of death right before he kills them. He's been painting a lot in his studio and he won't let wife Barbara Stanwyck see his portrait of her. Hmmmmm? Could this mean ...? The film starts slowly, and doesn't really hit its stride until Stanwyck starts doing the math and adding up the clues. Up until that time, not much happens. Bogart is O.K., but this certainly isn't one of his top performances. Stanwyck is very good once she's given a chance to act later in the film. Alexis Smith, as the intended next Mrs. Carroll, doesn't much register with a distant performance that reveals nothing of her character (although the script gives her little to do anyways, other than a few good exchanges with Bogart at a tea party). I enjoyed the last thirty minutes a lot, but I wish the script and director had managed to make the first two-thirds more interesting. The story has more potential than the film delivers....more info
  • Lackluster Women's Noir, but the Stars Make it Worthwhile
    Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck play interestingly against type as psychologically troubled artist Gerry Carroll and his fragile second wife, Sally. The problem isn't the acting or (in my opinion) the casting, but the clunky script. In the opening scene, Sally accidentally learns that new flame Gerry is married when (*clears throat for comic effect*) a letter to "Mrs. Carroll" falls out of his pocket. Swearing to never see Gerry again, Sally runs off into the rain, only to turn up married to Gerry three scenes later, after wife number one is dead. From there, the turns of plot become ever more convenient and clich¨¦d, and yet somehow less logical at the same time. The script both swills in extraneous information and leaves too much unexplained, and the film overall is like a clothesline, with the plot points hung on awkwardly at predictable intervals.

    But if there were ever two stars that could save bad material, it was Bogart and Stanwyck. Bogie made the choppy, incoherent character Gerry come out to more than the sum of his parts. And Stany, rest her soul, did her best in everything, from Preston Sturges literary tour de force *The Lady Eve* to the string of nickel westerns she did in the '50s. This pairing deserved a better vehicle, but it's fun to watch even so. ...more info
  • And Bogart is a Bonus
    Even with out Bogart this is a glorious film. It stands on it's own providing a wonderful atmosphere, suspenseful plot, stellar acting. Bogart is in peak form as well as a psychopathic artist. He plays the role with understated menise. His mental state isn't drilled into you with a jackhammer but is built slowly with. While not as romantic as Casablanca it stands in my mind as one of his best....more info


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