“Possessed” (1947) starring Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, & Raymond Massey

A woman wanders the streets of LA in distress. She approaches some men who she calls “David.” Eventually, an ambulance is called and she’s taken to the hospital. She is placed in the psychiatric ward, where she is given some meds to help her remember by Dr. Willard. He is then able to get learn about her life over the next few days. About a year ago, she- Louise Howell (Joan Crawford)- was employed as a nurse by a wealthy businessman, Dean Graham (Raymond Massey). She took care of his (bedridden/sick) wife, Pauline, at their lake house near D.C. Pauline (who MAY be suffering from paranoia) believed that Dean and Louise were having an affair. David Sutton (Van Heflin) is a civil engineer who lives across the lake from the Grahams; he and Louise were involved in a secret affair. The relationship was meant to be casual; David tries to break-up w/ her when Louise grows obsessive in her love. One evening (during Louise’s time off), Pauline ends up dead (drowned in the lake)!

Louise: “I love you” is such an inadequate way of saying I love you. It doesn’t quite describe how much it hurts sometimes.

The screenplay was written by Silvia Richards and Ranald McDougall (who also wrote Mildred Pierce). The director is Curtiz Bernhardt; the cinematographer is Joseph Valentine. The score is by Franz Waxman; he features Schumann’s Carnaval – Opus 9 on the piano (which is played by David). As one astute viewer commented: Crawford does go over the top, but it’s part of the character. Van Heflin (an underrated actor) doesn’t play a villain; David says he is “restless b/c of the war” (so is NOT in the mindset to settle down). I esp. liked the early scene of Louise and David’s relationship; the chemistry and dialogue worked V well. As the story goes on, some scenes go on a BIT too long. There are some things to admire in this film noir, so check it out for yourself!

[1] Possessed is post-war, and after the war, the new rage was psychology. This movie is full of it. […]

This is Joan Crawford’s show and she makes the most of it. The script will keep you interested, and you won’t be able to take your eyes off of Joan descending into madness.

[2] Crawford, fresh from winning an Academy Award for “Mildred Pierce” looked as if she was trying for another one here

[3] Some of the film does get a little too melodramatic, particularly in the middle where some of the psychology waffles a little too self-indulgently and if Waxman’s score was a little more subtle, at times, that would have helped.

-Excerpts from IMDb reviews

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