A good spine-tingler, this film offers a sinister, calculating Basehart working to undo Cortese, a WW II refugee who has assumed another identity. Cortese, who had been in a Nazi concentration camp, takes the identity of another prisoner who died and this impersonation leads her to San
Francisco to see the son of the dead woman, a boy who has lived with his wealthy great-aunt almost since birth. The aunt dies just before Cortese arrives and she inherits a vast fortune. She meets and falls in love with Basehart, trustee to the fortune, and both go to live in the family mansion
atop Telegraph Hill. Here Cortese looks after the small boy as if he were her own but she begins to notice strange accidents that prove near-fatal to the boy and also to herself. Next she learns that Basehart and the child's governess, Baker, are in love and in league to kill her and the child.
They have murdered the aunt to obtain the great fortune and now plan on killing Cortese and the boy to get their hands on the money. Through a ruse, Cortese gets Basehart to drink a glass of poison he has intended for her, and then further dupes Baker into delaying a call to the hospital to aid
Basehart, so that Baker is later arrested for his murder. She has thus eliminated her two persecutors and can go on living a decent life with the small boy she intends to call her own. It's a muddy mystery but there's plenty of fright and enough clever twists to keep the viewer's attention.
Basehart is a standout as the opportunistic fortune-hunter and subtle murderer. This is gothic film noir in the style of GASLIGHT and THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE but it lacks a solid script to equal those classics. Nominated for the Best Art Direction/Set Decoration Oscar.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A good spine-tingler, this film offers a sinister, calculating Basehart working to undo Cortese, a WW II refugee who has assumed another identity. Cortese, who had been in a Nazi concentration camp, takes the identity of another prisoner who died and this… (more)