Whirlpool (1949)

Whirlpoolwhirlpool poster
Directed by Otto Preminger
Written by Ben Hecht and Andrew Solt from a novel by Guy Endore
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
First viewing/Netflix rental

David Korvo: You were wise not to tell your husband, Mrs. Sutton. A successful marriage is usually based on what a husband and wife don’t know about each other.

Otto Preminger reunites with Gene Tierney and David Raskin for an OK psychological drama.  Jose Ferrer is the highlight.

Ann Sutton (Tierney) is to all appearances very happily married to wildly successful society psychiatrist Dr. William Sutton (Richard Conte).  But she has a terrible secret.  Her secret comes out one day when she is caught shoplifting from a department store.  Unfortunately for her, David Korvo (Ferrer) witnesses the apprehension and helps her preserve her secret and her name.

He calls her soon afterwards.  She thinks he is blackmailing her but it turns out he has something far more sinister in mind.  He takes her to a party where he performs instant character analyses on the guests and soon demonstrates his mastery of hypnosis on Ann. His hypnotic technique cures Ann of her chronic insomnia and headaches.  Thereafter she willingly consults him.

Gene Tierney Whirlpool (1949)

Korvo practices his quackery out of his apartment but the virtuous Ann refuses to see him there.  Instead, they consult over drinks in the hotel bar.

It turns out Korvo has a problem too.  He bilked a former lady friend/client into turning over her daughter’s trust fund to him.  The lady has since broken with him and is now seeing Ann’s husband.  She threatens to confess to her daughter and sue him.  When the lady turns up murdered, Ann is found standing over the corpse.  She says she has no idea how she got there.  All the evidence seems to suggest she was having an affair with Korvo. Korvo, himself, is lying in a hospital recovering from gallbladder surgery.

Can Dr. Sutton and Lt. James Colton (Charles Bickford) get to the truth?

Annex - Bickford, Charles (Whirlpool)_01

Jose Ferrer is fabulous as the wily, sarcastic Korvo.  Raskin’s score is the other standout.  Otherwise, the wildly improbable tale keeps one’s attention if not more.


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