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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Lost Moment (1947)

An American publisher (Robert Cummings) travels to Venice in the hopes of obtaining the love letters of the long deceased poet Jeffrey Ashton which are held by his surviving mistress (Agnes Moorehead), still living at the ripe old age of 105. However, he hides his true identity as the old woman's ward (Susan Hayward) is suspicious of him and very protective of the letters. Based on the 1888 Henry James novella THE ASPERN PAPERS, the film alters the James narrative in order to make the two leads more romantic and sympathetic than their more calculating literary counterparts. No surprise, there's no chemistry between the bland Cummings (did anyone ever have chemistry with him?) and the miscast Hayward. Moorehead is covered with so much old age make up that she's virtually unrecognizable. How do we even know that's her under all the gunk? Fortunately, the moody B&W cinematography by Hal Mohr (THE JAZZ SINGER) and the atmospheric art direction of Alexander Golitzen do a lot to cover up the film's deficiencies. Directed by actor turned director Martin Gabel (MARNIE). With Joan Lorring, Eduardo Ciannelli and John Archer.

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