Undercurrent

  • 1946
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Thriller

Taylor's first film after coming back from WW II service had him in the unaccustomed role of a villain in director Minnelli's only film noir assignment. Hepburn is a dowdy spinster who lives a very quiet existence with her professor father, Gwenn. (Hepburn had played Gwenn's daughter once before in SYLVIA SCARLETT, 1936.) There is no love on the horizon...read more

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Taylor's first film after coming back from WW II service had him in the unaccustomed role of a villain in director Minnelli's only film noir assignment. Hepburn is a dowdy spinster who lives a very quiet existence with her professor father, Gwenn. (Hepburn had played Gwenn's daughter

once before in SYLVIA SCARLETT, 1936.) There is no love on the horizon for Hepburn, so she is more than eager when she meets Taylor, a well-to-do manufacturer of airplanes. Their courtship and marriage are seen in scant minutes, and the couple are united. No sooner is the ring slipped on the

finger, however, than Hepburn sees Taylor is not nearly the solid citizen he appeared to be on the surface. His face grows dark when he speaks of his long-lost brother, Mitchum; he maintains that Mitchum cheated him on a business deal. Hepburn can't believe that her normally gentle husband could

muster so much rancor, so she begins to investigate and learns that Taylor has been lying. Mitchum is anything but a snake, and Taylor may be the person responsible for Mitchum's disappearance--and he may in fact have murdered him. Further information she gleans leads her to suspect that Taylor

framed Mitchum on a robbery charge and killed a scientist whose invention he stole. It was that asset that put Taylor's company on the map and gave him such riches. Hepburn takes it upon herself to go out to Mitchum's small ranch. While there, she meets a man she thinks is the caretaker. It takes

a while, but she finally learns that the man is Mitchum. He is taken by her naivete and worries that Taylor's chicanery might ruin her innocent life. Mitchum goes to see Taylor, and we discover the truth about why he left the family company. Mitchum had always thought Taylor killed the scientist,

and he couldn't bear living with that guilt. Taylor tells Mitchum that he loves Hepburn and would never dream of involving her in any criminal schemes. Mitchum is placated enough to cease his harangue of Taylor. Hepburn has been acting standoffish towards Taylor, and he can tell that the love has

disappeared from their marriage.d With that gone, she has become an albatross around his neck, so he seeks to remove her by murder. Instead, he is himself killed when Mitchum's horse stomps him to death. In the end, Hepburn and Mitchum will get together.

Good musical score by Stothart highlights the suspense, but the movie fails to engender enough thrills to make it effective. Mitchum had been loaned out by David Selznick, with whom he had a personal contract, and was working on three movies at the same time. He shot DESIRE ME for MGM in the

afternoon, this film in the morning, and THE LOCKET for RKO at night. Since he was not yet 30 years of age, presumably he had a great deal of stamina, but the long hours must have taken their toll because he seemed to go into a permanent sleepwalking mode for the remainder of his career. Taylor

was 35 and no longer the pretty boy of CAMILLE and his other films before the war. This was one of his most difficult acting jobs because it wasn't one note, but rather a huge range of tones; he was equal to the task. It was also Clinton Sundberg's film debut after Hepburn discovered him on the

stage. Minnelli's distinguished career ended when he turned down assignment after assignment in the 1970s and 1980s because he felt that the movie industry was paying too much attention to sex and violence and had lost the charm it once had. He died in late July, 1986, leaving a legacy of many

memorable films.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Taylor's first film after coming back from WW II service had him in the unaccustomed role of a villain in director Minnelli's only film noir assignment. Hepburn is a dowdy spinster who lives a very quiet existence with her professor father, Gwenn. (Hepburn… (more)

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