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The Locket (1946)

The Locket poster 2.jpg

The Freuds have had a lot of influence on the 20th century and beyond, as a paranoid BBC documentary once informed us. Latterly it’s been in Mad Men-style advertising and PR (evil incarnate, n’est-ce pas?!) but first there was Sigmund and the vogue for psychoanalysis which spread like bindweed particularly in the US in the 1940s (as if WW2 wasn’t enough to handle). Obviously it was a narrative trope for screenwriters and filmmakers, looking to explain women to the world (if it has a brain AND a vagina that way psychosis lies, apparently – Sharon Stone once coined a phrase along those lines but it escapes me, sadly). A woman on the way to her wedding service is revealed to be a troublesome lying kleptomaniac who’s been married before. The story is revealed through three narrators, each of whom has a flashback within a flashback within a flashback. One is a psychiatrist ex-husband, the other a boyfriend. They are played by Brian Aherne and Robert Mitchum. She’s the final narrator and we see that she was wrongly accused of theft as a child. This appalling incident has had catastrophic consequences. The principal interest here is in the structure – even the title has symbolic import. The original screenplay by Norma Barzman, What Nancy Wanted, was discarded in favour of a rewrite by Sheridan Gibney and it’s directed by German ex-pat John Brahm, who did a nice line in nifty melodramas in the 40s. This is a revenge story brilliantly told in reverse – not easy to achieve. Good to see Mitchum as the former swain who cracks in this claustrophobic RKO production starring B-movie actress Laraine Day, on loan from MGM and giving the neurotic performance of her life.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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