Monday, 3 August 2009

The Reckless Moment (Max Ophuls 1949)

Bea Harper: When you're seventeen today, you know what the score is.

Lucia Harper (Joan Bennet) is a busy mother in this blend of noir and melodramatic movie. She takes care of her middle class family while her husband – who never appears in the film - is away on business. Her teenage daughter Bea (Geraldine Brooks) is seeing Ted Darby (Sheppard Strudwick), an elder man of dubious reputation. Lucia travels to LA to ask him to stop seeing her daughter. He only agrees to do so if he is given a good sum of money, however Bea wants to see him again.

After Ted’s accidental violent death Lucia will handle the situation. In a reckless moment she will get rid of the body in Balboa Harbour. Later she will be the victim of blackmail by Martin Donelly (James Mason) who has the love letters Bea and Ted had exchanged. Lucia tries to face the situation herself, keeping the family away from the whole affair. Martin, who has fallen in love with her, is impressed by her efforts to protect her daughter and he is willing to stop the pressure on her, however, his boss named Nagle (Roy Roberts) doesn’t agree…

A remarkable performance by Joan Bennet, in a mature and maternal role, far from the femme fatale she was in some of her Lang movies.

Martin: She's lucky to have a mother like you.
Lucia Harper: Everyone has a mother like me. You probably had one, too.

Lucia Harper: You don't know how a family can surround you at times.
Martin: Do you never get away from your family?
Lucia Harper: No.