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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Beyond The Forest (1949)

A frustrated and bored housewife (Bette Davis) feels  trapped in the small town she lives in and hates all the people in it. Although married to the town's doctor (Joseph Cotten), she begins an affair with a wealthy businessman (David Brian) from Chicago. Determined to get out of hicksville and to Chicago where she plans to marry the businessman, she'll stop at nothing ... including murder! The film has an inexplicable reputation as a "camp" film (no doubt influenced by the opening scene in Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?) but those seeking a "so bad it's good" movie are bound to be disappointed. While not on a par with his other overheated melodramas from the same period like THE FOUNTAINHEAD or RUBY GENTRY, King Vidor manages to whip up an engaging Americanized and updated version of MADAME BOVARY (ironically MGM and Minnelli did the real thing the same year).  But the the film has a huge stumbling block and that's its star. Davis is so miscast, there's no way of getting around it. While watching all I could think was how Patricia Neal could have batted it out of the park. Davis tries but you can tell she realizes it's a lost cause. The Oscar nominated score by Max Steiner is one of his very best. With Ruth Roman, Dona Drake, Regis Toomey, Minor Watson, Ann Doran and Sarah Selby.

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