The Marriage Trap
Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes - I Remember Mama) knows she wants to marry a wealthy man and she will do whatever to achieve it. So when she meets millionaire Smith Ohlrig (Robert Ryan - The Boy with Green Hair) it seems like she has got what she wanted, the security of a wealthy man. But after they marry Leonora's happy new life comes crashing down when she realises her husband is a controlling, jealous man who likes to own things but soon gets bored with them. After finally leaving him Leonora goes to work as a secretary for Dr. Larry Quinada (James Mason - The Upturned Glass) and falls for him but finds herself drawn back to Smith and his controlling ways eventually leading to a confrontation at Smith's lavish mansion.
Barbara Bel Geddes will always be Miss Ewing for me as like many who grew up in the 80s I did so watching "Dallas" but it is because of "Dallas" I have always had a fondness for the actress which is how I cam to be watching "Caught". Now I mention that because "Caught" is in fact the sort of movie I might ignore because every review I stumbled across declared it as a great film-noir and I tend to end up very disappointed by these movies. Whilst I would never class "Caught" as a great movie it is certainly a well put together movie which is easy to follow, looks great and has good characters played by good actors.
The first thing to strike you about "Caught" is the look and director Max Ophuls has created a striking looking movie. The scene where Leonora first meets Smith when he drives her to his mansion is exquisite because of the using of shadow to half mask Smith's face which insinuates of a sinister dark side to his direct but pleasant personality. The use of shadow is consistent throughout the movie but the locations especially the inside of Smith's mansion add to the wonderful look which cinematographer Lee Garmes does a fantastic job of capturing.
But then there is the acting and Barbara Bel Geddes is well cast as Leonora because she brings warmth and naivety to the role, a wholesomeness of a good girl who whilst in love with Smith realises she is not enough woman to deal with his selfish ways. Yet at the same time Geddes also brings out a touch of the characters own selfishness as she fails to show any interest in her husband's business. Talking of husband Robert Ryan is first rate as the cruel, possessive and jealous Smith who has his own secret problem of suffering panic attacks if he doesn't get what he wants. Ryan makes him a mean man, cold in his cruelty towards everyone especially Leonora which is in direct contrast to James Mason as Larry, the good hearted doctor who leads a simple existence.
The thing is that whilst I like "Caught" and it is enjoyable from start to finish as it delivers interesting characters, great style and cinematography it didn't blow me away. That may be down to the first part lacking in atmosphere, maybe it is because for the most it is predictable but it is a good but not great movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Caught" is a good movie, an entertaining drama from 1949 which has mass appeal thanks to its good cast. But I am sure for those who love film-noir it will be all that more enjoyable than to those with just a casual interest in old movies.
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