Tension (1949) 3.29/5 (1)
3.29/51

 

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Rating: The Good – 74.3
Genre: Film-Noir
Duration: 95 mins
Director: John Berry
Stars: Richard Basehart, Audrey Totter, Barry Sullivan

Wonderful if obscure thriller capturing much of the cleverness which defined the best film-noir but perhaps missing out on the genre’s overall dexterity. Richard Basehart is the meek pharmacist working the long night shift to keep his materialistic and altogether distasteful wife (Audrey Totter in true vixenish form) happy. When she brazenly leaves him for a wealthier man, he creates an alter ego who he intends to ultimately kill the interloper and then promptly disappear. To say it all goes pear-shaped and that unintended homicide is involved isn’t giving much away but the audience is dealt an engaging series of twists and turns along the way. Basehart is as good as his limited craft typically allowed him to be while Totter channels the latter side to the femme fatale trope with relish. Pure vinegar and no wine, she might not grasp the necessary complexity of the great cinematic tradition but she nonetheless makes for one hell of a nasty steak of self-regard – and director John Berry and composer André Brevin don’t waste an opportunity to build the movie’s darker more sultry moods around her. Barry Sullivan is great fun as the homicide detective who wines and dines his suspects until he gets what he wants out of them – even if he is central to a bemusing introduction which seems to serve no other purpose thank to explain the relevance of the title.

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