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Bedevilled (1955)

MGM, Paris, Steve Forrest and Anne Baxter all collide in technicolor for this mixture of noir, religion and romance. It’s a tale that sees handsome, square shouldered and rock jawed Forrest off to Paris to complete his religious studies before entering the priesthood. From the moment he sets foot on a plane to head overseas, he’s going to have nothing but “dame” trouble. This will only compound his internal struggle on whether or not to become ordained in the Catholic Church or seek out a new life after having seen the horrors of the Korean War that has raised doubts within himself on the goodness of man.

Upon his first night in the famous city, he’ll attempt to take in some sights but the only sight within reach will be Anne Baxter who collides with him as they both attempt to hail a cab. In fine Hitchcock tradition, she’s on the run from someone. She’s nervous, edgy and dressed to the nines. He’ll share a cab with her and thankfully, the script has her leaving a medallion behind which will give Forrest an opportunity to follow the damsel in obvious distress into the nightclub where Anne is the featured singer. Adding mystery to the proceedings, a couple of police inspectors will also be looking for her and using French, she’ll claim that she’s been with Forrest all evening. What she hasn’t realized just yet is the handsome American understands the language perfectly well.

In true Cary Grant form, Forrest is off and running with Anne as she attempts to leave the nightclub by the back alley finding a man awaiting her. With a solid shot to the jaw, Forrest lays him out and the pair are entering a Noir like world of dimly lit alleyways while fleeing into the night. The melodrama picks it up a notch as Anne begins to take notice of just how useful Forrest might be in more ways than just the obvious. While she’s flirting, he’s talking in circles never admitting to his real purpose in Paris. But he has a friend in high places who is bound to be very helpful to them.

The reason for Anne’s running about Paris in the middle of the night? She claims she’s witness to a murder and now the guilty party who happens to be a mobster wants her silenced for good. The trail of mystery will allow director Mitchell Leisen to stage a nice action sequence in what the film states is Napoleon’s tomb. I’ll assume that’s what it really is. Not having been to Paris, I really have no idea if it’s an on location shoot but it fits the Noir angle perfectly with it’s appropriately lit winding corridors and large statues.

“Have a little faith.”

Steve might be thinking just that as Anne is beginning to look awfully good and her kisses feel just fine. Could a life time of religious study be coming to an end for Dana Andrew’s real life brother over the course of a 48 adventure in the city where lovers meet? Still to come is another well shot roof top chase that culminates in an odd ending to the film. I don’t like to play spoiler and won’t so you’ll have to keep your eye on TCM listings to see if you agree with me if you haven’t already seen this one. Within a year of this release, Anne would be embarking on what is probably her most famous role to the general public, Nefretiri in DeMille’s Ten Commandments while Forrest would mainly find his success in the new medium known as television in the years ahead. A medium that was wreaking havoc on the studios profit margins.

Aside from the actors and Leisen giving this a Noir like feel, I have to admit it’s rather silly and far fetched if one wants to sit in front of their TV and poke holes in the plot. It would have been nice to see a few more familiar faces on screen and a more polished script but in the end, both leads are likable stars of the era so that will have to do upon this first time viewing for yours truly.

9 Comments »

  1. Did this one remind you at all of ‘North by Northwest’ in any way? That’s the feeling I kinda got from reading your review…if not ‘N by NW’, then something that Hitchcock might’ve directed. Too bad it wasn’t a better film…sounds like it had the makings of a winner.

  2. I was so excited when I saw this listed on TCM a few years ago since it was a title I knew, Anne Baxter again being one of the performers whose filmography I’m trying to complete, but that was about it and it sounded intriguing. As a big classic movie fan what seemed bewildering was that I could be more or less unfamiliar with an MGM film from the 50’s starring Anne Baxter in Technicolor, set in Paris and directed by the legendary Mitchell Leisen. That’s a potent combo for such obscurity.

    Well now I know how. What’s bewildering is that a film with those advantages could squander them so. It’s visually beautiful but I found it a flatfooted, turgidly paced suspense film missing the suspense. Anne tries to breathe life into the picture but seems edgy and a bit lost. Her character is poorly defined but that held true for all the characters. Then she’s saddled with the task of acting opposite Steve Forrest who is beyond wooden in the lead. In no way did he suggest any sort of spirituality or a sense of real conflict with the decisions before him.

    He was a big part of the failure of the movie but I can’t lay all the blame at his feet since the script is nonsensical and Leisen is off his game or simply unable to turn this dull lump of coal into something resembling entertainment.

    The film takes advantage of its location shooting with breathtaking views of Paris however pretty pictures are not enough to make an involving movie. It’s not painfully bad but a mediocre effort at best.

    • It just comes up short in most every department other than the nice location shoot and feel. As you say the characters are just so clichéd and unbelievable, This is one of those melodramatic efforts that might be rather enjoyable if viewed with a like minded group of film fans. In the end a real let down for the talent involved but the color photography sure is nice. At least it turned up on TCM for a look see.

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