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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rage In Heaven (1941)

After escaping from a mental institution and returning to the family home, an insane man (Robert Montgomery) appears outwardly normal but his paranoia simmers beneath. He is jealous of his best friend (George Sanders) and after he marries his mother's (Lucile Watson) pretty secretary (Ingrid Bergman), he becomes obsessed with the idea that his wife and best friend are lovers behind his back. Based on the novel by James Hilton (RANDOM HARVEST), the similarities to LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN are too similar to ignore (Montgomery as Gene Tierney, Bergman as Cornel Wilde and Sanders as Jeanne Crain) and indeed, a major plot development in RAGE IN HEAVEN is a major plot point in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN. It's nowhere as good as the 1945 film but it's entertaining enough if a little silly. Montgomery is so obviously crazy that you wonder why someone doesn't insist he see a psychiatrist. Perhaps apocryphal but reputedly Montgomery didn't want to do the film and purposely gave a flat performance which caused MGM to insert a prologue in which a doctor (Oscar Homolka) refers to how emotionless his character is. Whatever the truth, it's an effective performance. Bergman is lovely and it's nice to see Sanders as the hero instead of the cad for a change. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

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