The Woman on the Beach

1947

Crime / Drama / Film-Noir / Romance

1
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 2289

love triangle painter post traumatic stress disorder femme fatale blind

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Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN
January 03, 2023 at 03:53 PM

Director

Top cast

Irene Ryan as Mrs. Wernecke
Joan Bennett as Peggy
Nan Leslie as Eve
Martha Hyer as Mrs. Barton
720p.WEB
653.09 MB
986*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 10 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by AlsExGal 7 / 10

Leonard Maltin HATES HATES HATES this movie...

... and only gives it 1.5/4. Well Mr. Maltin is like any other critic - a useful tool as to what might be good or bad, but in this case I strongly disagree. It walks on the wild side where most American films did not tread in 1947 unless you were making a full-out noir with people who lived on the underbelly of life.

But this film has an American coast guard officer suffering from PTSD from his wartime experiences as a protagonist (Robert Ryan as Scott), back before they knew what PTSD was and just called it shell shocked. Scott is engaged to marry machinist Eve (Nan Leslie), but then he runs into Peggy (Joan Bennett), who is collecting fire wood near a beached wrecked vessel while he is riding his horse on the beach one day.

He goes back to her beach house where she lives with her blinded husband, Tod (Charles Bickford), a great artist before his blindness, which was caused by some rough sex and broken glass??? with Peggy, so Peggy feels responsible and trapped and Tod likes it that way. Exactly HOW Peggy could accidentally do what she did is unexplained but insinuated, and I assume is completely explained in the novel from which the screenplay is adapted.

The point is, Tod knows Peggy is attracted to Scott, and he seems to enjoy toying with both of them at dinner, yet invites Scott to return to visit them. Peggy and Scott share their unhealthy obsession with past demons, and to Scott this is more attractive than healthy all American Eve. In fact, he fails to show up for their wedding with no explanation, no apology. She has to come to him to get anything close to "Gee whiz I'm sorry".

On top of Scott's PTSD, he becomes obsessed both with Peggy, who understands him and doesn't try to "fix" him and his belief that Tod is really not blind. You see, Scott knows Peggy will leave Tod if it can be proved Tod can see. Tod does seem to follow light, is adventurous in where he is willing to wander alone, and seems to be looking people in the eye when he could not if blind. Can Tod see, and how far is Scott willing to go to prove he can? Watch and find out.

Ryan is always good as the troubled complex soul - you'll never see him play Santa Claus in these old films, but at least you can understand his character. As for Charles Bickford? He was always a giant talent who let his bluntness and temper get in the way of his career. Here he uses that bluntness and temper in his performance. This is probably the biggest role he is in this late in his career, and his characterization of the enigmatic painter is terrific.

I recommend this experimental and odd little film.

Reviewed by secondtake 7 / 10

Striving for psychological depth, and getting halfway there

The Woman on the Beach (1947)

An interesting psycho-drama. The plot is a contrivance, limited to one general scene on an ocean beach, where a soldier (Robert Ryan) is struggling with terrible memories of the war. He is apparently in love with one woman but then he meets a far more beguiling and mysterious woman (Joan Bennett), already married to a man who has recently gone blind.

So there are the four characters. Each is loaded with qualities that are plain to see and that guide their decisions in extreme ways. Ryan, as an actor, is not to everyone's taste, but he has grown on me over the years. The stiff posture and equally stiff verbal delivery is laced with feeling, like he's constantly wound up too tight. That's perfect here for a man still tormented by violent dreams and uncertainty in his lonely life.

Bennett plays a kind of woman who isn't quite femme fatale because she isn't quite manipulating Ryan without his knowing, but she has a sinister look and tone to her voice that's terrific. It turns out she hates her husband, not having to do with his blindness, but because he's cruel to her. So it naturally occurs to both Ryan and Bennett in different ways that the blind husband might be dispensable somehow, even if neither is quite prepared for murder.

The husband is given an earthy, almost admirable quality that is wonderfully at odds with how he treats Bennett. And the fourth leading character, the sweet woman who is slowly seeing Ryan slip out of her future, is the one symbol of straight forward simplicity and honesty.

There are scenes along the cliffs, on the stormy waters, at night in the grasses, and in a shipwrecked hull. You feel sometimes that it's almost a play, scripted tightly (too tightly) and staged in a limited physical world (with even the ocean scene seeming constrained in space). But this works, in a way, because you know it's a study of sorts, not a slice of real life. The one real flaw is having the blind man just too able to walk and do things without his eyes, never stumbling, never missing by an inch something he's reaching for.

This movie was a surprise in many ways. I haven't seen one quite like it, and Ryan and Bennett are really both vivid and strangely deep. If the end leaves you unsatisfied, you're not alone. It's too easy, and it shows no psychological insight after all the probing and groping prior. Even so, it's strong enough to work as a stylized piece, an artifice with bits of truth tucked in the edges.

Reviewed by blanche-2 7 / 10

uneven Renoir noir

Joan Bennett is "The Woman on the Beach" in this off-center 1947 film also starring Robert Ryan and Charles Bickford. Directed by Jean Renoir, it apparently was badly edited by RKO; thus, it sometimes felt to this viewer as if large sections were omitted.

Robert Ryan plays Scott, a Coast Guard officer with post-traumatic stress from the war. Psychologically, he's a little off balance. I suppose saying "Robert Ryan" and "a little off balance" is saying the same thing, given the roles he played, but there we are. He's set to be married to a lovely woman, Eve, (Nan Leslie), and in fact, urges her to marry him even sooner than planned in an early scene. A few minutes later, he's madly in love with Peggy (Bennett), whom he sees collecting driftwood on the beach near an old wreck. Her husband Tod, it turns out, is a great artist, now blind from a fight with his wife. The two of them have a fairly sick relationship, with Tod apparently tempting Peggy with good-looking young guys to see if she'll cheat on him. At one point during dinner with the couple, Scott passes a lighter across to Peggy and Tod head turns as the flame passes him. When Peggy walks Scott out of the house she says, "No, Scott, you're wrong." So Scott, somewhere in a cut out section, became convinced that Tod can see, tells Peggy, and feels that Tod failed the test. But you have to fill that in because it's not in the movie. It doesn't occur to him, I suppose, that Tod felt the heat of the light. Finally, Scott takes Tod for a walk along the cliffs, determined to find out for once and for all if he can see or not.

The film holds one's interest because of the direction, atmosphere, and performances, but things seem to happen very quickly. Eve complains to Scott that he didn't stop by the night before - which she considers a sign that they are drifting apart - and he tells her that he shouldn't be married. In the film it seems like that happens within 24 hours from the time he wants to get married immediately. Fickle. One suspects another cut.

This is a film about becoming free of obsession, and though some found the end ambiguous, it did seem clear to me that there was some resolution. The three leads are excellent - Bennett and Bickford play a couple with a strong history that has led to a love/hate "Virginia Woolf" type of relationship along with infidelity on her part; Ryan, looking quite young here, is handsome, sincere and gullible as a man who, while trying to break free of his demons, walks into a situation that feeds on them rather than resolves them.

With a more judicious cutting, "The Woman on the Beach" could have been a really fantastic film, with its psychological underpinnings being far ahead of their time. As it is, it's still worth watching, though if I'd been Renoir, I would have been plenty angry at RKO for what was done to this movie.

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