Day 25 of Noirvember: Dive into Whirlpool (1949)
Released by 20th Century Fox in 1949, Whirlpool stars Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, and Jose Ferrer. It’s not quite noir – but it’s certainly, undeniably noir-ISH.
This is the story. Ann Sutton (Gene Tierney), the wife of a prominent psychoanalyst (Richard Conte), is caught shoplifting in a pricey department store. Just as authorities prepare to lower the boom, she’s rescued by David Korvo (Jose Ferrer), who happens to witness Mrs. Sutton being detained, and convinces the store manager to release her. Turns out that Korvo is not the knight in shining armor that he appears to be – he’s a hypnotist who uses his skills to bilk wealthy women out of their funds and, in Ann Sutton’s case, far more sinister purposes.
What I like about Whirlpool:
Jose Ferrer plays one of the nastiest fellas without a gat that you’re likely to see for a while. He’s clearly intelligent, slick as glass, cunning and shrewd – and not overly fond of women.
Gene Tierney’s wardrobe was designed by her then-husband, Oleg Cassini. And it. Is. Spectacular.
Barbara O’Neil – Scarlett’s mom in Gone With the Wind – has a small part in the film as a former client of Jose Ferrer’s, who warns Gene Tierney that he is after her money. She’s got a white streak in her hair that reminds you of the Bride of Frankenstein. Sadly, she’s only in one scene. I won’t say why.
What I don’t like about Whirlpool:
Richard Conte in a non-gangster role – wearing bow ties and glasses. Yecch. I mean, he’s still cute and everything, but – oh, wait. THAT’s the problem. Conte isn’t supposed to be CUTE. He’s handsome, virile, frighteningly scary. Yummy, even. But not cute.
I can relate to suspending my disbelief, but a few things happen in this film that make it REALLY difficult to do. There’s a scene in which David Korvo, who’s suffering from an infection from a recent gall bladder operation, hypnotizes himself, resulting in his ability to rise from his hospital bed, drive to another location, and carry out all kinds of nefarious activities. It’s a bit much.
The best quote in Whirlpool:
“I bow to your abysmal scruples.” – Jose Ferrer
Did people in the 1940s and 1950s really get in their cars on the passenger side and scoot over to the driver’s side? (Just wondering.)
My conclusion about Whirlpool:
It’s no classic, but it’s worthy of your time. Check it out if you get the chance. You’ll be glad you did. (I think.)
Join me tomorrow for Day 26 of Noirvember!