Monday, August 25, 2008

Rage in Heaven (1941) Film Review

Plot Summary - Psychological melodrama opening in a Paris "clinic for the insane" where the doctor discusses a patient going by the name of "Ward Andrews" who suffers from extreme paranoia and is proclaimed "dangerous", capable of anything - even murder. Okay - that patient escapes before we see him, cut to the English estate of Philip Monrell (Robert Montgomery) who arrives after months abroad to see his aging mother - he brings with him his best friend, one Ward Andrews (George Sanders), who he has just run across in London. The two men meet mother's beautiful new secretary/companion Stella Bergen (Ingrid Bergman) and are soon both courting her. Philip quickly begins to show himself as a bit of a head case - he likes to sit in trees, is afraid of moonlight, and develops a huge, strange jealousy over Stella's attentions to his friend Ward. TWIST / SPOILER - well, I think you may see where this is leading, revealed fairly early in the film, actually - see, it turns out that Philip Monrell likes to pose as his friend sometimes, live as him, feel Ward's success for himself (yeah, sort of a la "Talented Mr. Ripley") - Philip was posing as "Ward Andrews" while in Paris and is actually the insane one. But Ward leaves and Philip takes over the romance and much sooner than you would think is married to Stella and taking over, rather poorly, as manager of the family steel works. Philip is really, very deeply disturbed as he feels everyone is against him and constantly talks about "Ward", questions Stella's love as he accuses her of secretly being in love with Ward, he evens invites Ward to stay with them and "test her". His obsession with Ward is very strange indeed - could the idea of murder being very far off?

Review - This is an okay film - - though it certainly starts a bit slow (I was getting somewhat bored by the middle), the end part definitely becomes quite interesting. Of course, having three top-notch actors play out this weird love triangle certainly helps things along - I actually found it a little hard to not think of George Sanders as the "bad guy", I'm so used to seeing him in more dangerous roles. Okay, a few things about the plot I wonder about - first, why do they make the mother disappear for the majority of the film - first appearances made it seem like she would be more in the story, as Monrell definitely seems like a real "mama's boy" gone nutters. Second, I seriously question why Stella ever married this guy in the first place - he shows signs of jealousy and craziness right from the get-go - at the very least, he seems like a sulking bore and a drag (well, he is Robert Montgomery, one of my favorites I must say - so maybe that helps - spark!). And then there's the cat - sad; this is one extremely twisted fellow. A decent film, worth a watch. Rating - 7/10 stars

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